Fresh off the back of a stunning, flying knee knockout of former UFC lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar, Cory Sandhagan has claimed that former two-time bantamweight titleholder, T.J. Dillashaw doesn’t want to fight him, but still remains timorous that the Californian will leapfrog him and fight for the championship next.
Taking co-main event honours at UFC Vegas 18 last weekend at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, Sandhagen blasted through the number-four ranked Edgar with a brutal flying knee stoppage just twenty-eight seconds into the opening round — surely stamping his status at the next title challenger behind incoming chaser, Aljamain Sterling.
Slated to attempt the first defence of his 135-pound crown, incumbent gold holder, Petr Yan meets with one-time foe of Sandhagen, Sterling at UFC 259 in March. And promotional perfect striker, Yan has previously noted his interest in matching with Dillashaw in his return after he knocks back Sterling.
Extending his winning-run to two-fights with a pair of stunning knockout wins over one-time title challenger, Marlon Moraes and the above mentioned, Edgar, Sandhagen claimed it would be “garbage“ if Dillashaw made his return from a two-year USADA suspension and fought for the title before he did.
Hoping to clash with either Yan or Sterling for the undisputed championship next, Sandhagen has stated that would be willing to meet with Dillashaw to further cement his status as the number-one contender to the title at bantamweight, however, claimed the Angels Camp native has no interest in standing across from him.
“I called out T.J. (Dillashaw) and Frankie (Edgar), right?” Sandhagen replied when asked by ESPN MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani if his fight with Edgar made sense given his upward trajectory. “I would’ve prefered to fight T.J. — I can’t really think of any reason in my head why it wasn’t T.J. that was in that cage with me last weekend instead of Frankie, other than T.J.’s just trying to get an easy shot at the title just ’cause he’s a big name and this famous dude.“
“I don’t know why that wasn’t T.J.,” Sandhagen said. “So it was either T.J. or Frankie — T.J. probably said no, so it ended up being Frankie.“
Sandhagen continued and explained how off the back of his devastating stoppage of Edgar, he believes Dillashaw would still reject a matchup with him if the UFC attempted to book them together.
“Yeah, I do, that’s probably what happened,” Sandhagen said. “If you look at his social media, it’s all road to recovery stuff, ‘Oh the comeback’ and blah blah blah. The guy was supposed to be back in January — the time would’ve been perfect for us to fight. And he didn’t. So I don’t know what that’s about — I don’t think he wants to fight.“
“I’m worried that T.J.’s gonna fight for the belt before me, and still not want the fight,” Sandhagen said. “And then me (sic) be stuck in this limbo thing because T.J.’s a bigger name and maybe he gets to call the shots a little bit more, I don’t know. That’s more of what I’m worried about, I don’t think T.J. wants to fight me.“
Completing his two-year retroactive suspension on January 19th. — USADA notified Dillashaw of a potential anti-doping policy violation following his January 2019 knockout loss to Henry Cejudo at UFC Fight Night Brooklyn, after one of his in-competition test samples returned a positive test for the banned substance, EPO (erythropoietin).
Dillashaw is currently free to return to active competition and continue his professional mixed martial arts career, however, an opponent for his Octagon return has yet to be nailed down, with the Bang Muay Thai trainee consistently claiming the bantamweight championship belongs to him still, while the UFC also fail to rule him from an immediate title shot upon his return.