An early UFC Fight Card is once again on tap this weekend, with the main card of UFC on ESPN: Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw scheduled to go off at 7 pm EST on ESPN. In what should be another strong card from top to bottom, fans are in for a real treat as one of the best main event events of the summer is a free one.
TJ Dillashaw, a former two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion, makes his return to the octagon following a two-year suspension due to testing positive for EPO, the same drug that ultimately did Lance Armstrong in at the start of his doping scandal. On the other side, Cory Sandhagen looks to take one step closer to a title shot, as the #2 rank contender in the division only has just one loss in the UFC on his record.
Let’s take a closer look.
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Betting Profile: Cory Sandhagen (14-2-0)
Last Five Fights
Since entering the UFC in 2018, Sandhagen has made largely light work of the bantamweight division except for one result – a first-round submission loss to Ajamain Sterling. In a defeat that didn’t last long enough to see how it really goes, Sandhagen will look at this one against Dillashaw as his first step back to a rematch against the current champion.
Despite having a Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sandhagan is likely the lesser of the two when it comes to grappling but does have the edge in striking. Coming into this fight, he possesses a Strikes Landed Per. Min (SLpM) of 6.85 (vs. 5.37), as well as significant strikes at 48% (vs.41%).
Betting Profile: TJ Dillashaw (17-4-0)
Last Five Fights
Though now it has all been called into question as it’s unclear just how long Dillashaw had been doping, his previous dominance inside the octagon can not be understated. The two-time champion who took the belt three years apart holds bantamweight records in total wins (12), finishes (8), KO/TKO wins (7), title fight wins (5), knockdowns landed (9), and total fight night bonuses (8); amongst others.
In addition to those striking related records, he does come into this fight holding edges nearly across the board in grappling. Per 15 minutes inside the octagon, Dillashaw averages 1.68 takedowns (vs. 1.07) and .96 submissions (vs. .53).
While it’s impossible to tell just how much of Dillashaw’s success was due to the use of EPO, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where it wasn’t a fraction. While Sanhagen’s success up to this point has been nothing short of impressive, I do think he comes in slightly overvalued after two dramatic highlight reel victories in his last two fights.
I think we see a refocused Dillashaw here that gets the job done over the less experienced (and less tested) Sandhagan.
Pick: TJ Dillashaw +136
Top Prop Bet
Both of these guys have a finish inside the distance average of 65%, with their combined average fight time coming in at just over 9 minutes. If we’re going to read into the doping aspect at all, EPO is designed to give the athletes who take it better wind, which we have to think is an adjustment for Dillashaw.
Like we saw with Miesha Tate last week, I think we see Dillashaw looking to make a statement in his first fight back here – and potentially get caught in the act.
Pick: Fight to Finish Inside the Distance? -Yes
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