Number 2 ranked UFC bantamweight Cory Sandhagen believes his main event against former teammate and two-time UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw at UFC Vegas 32 is a no. 1 contender fight.
“I think it’s definitely got to be or at least on my end it is,” Sandhagen said at UFC Vegas 32 media day. “So that’s next step. I think the timing is pretty good too. [Sterling and Yan] can have their fight in October or whenever that’s scheduled and then hopefully they don’t want to milk this thing too bad. Because I’m going to come for that belt and I’m going to take it from whoever wins that fight and that’s how I see my next year going.”
Dillashaw had two years off as a result from a suspension after he tested positive for EPO and was forced to relinquish his bantamweight title. He said he relished his time outside of the octagon and was thankful to be able to get necessary surgeries and figure out life after fighting.
Sandhagen does not buy that narrative, though.
“I think in almost any topic in life, if you argue good enough, you can probably argue some benefits to something that’s probably negative,” Sandhagen said. “But I don’t buy the whole, ‘This is his time off. This is his road to recovery.’ That’s not what this is. He was suspended, and I’m sure that he would have much rather been fighting than sitting on the bench, and that’s to his own fault.”
Sandhagen expanded on whether or not he felt like this was an opportunity for Dillashaw to create a narrative of redemption with a win against him.
“I think that’s how he would love to have it play out. I think that he’s putting a lot of eggs in the basket of ‘Let me beat Cory Sandhagen so I can prove that it wasn’t because I was on steroids,’ or whatever,” Sandhagen said. “I think that that would be a Cinderella story for him, and that’s likely what he’s wanting but he has me in the way of wanting that.”
Even with the appeal to this fight of an interesting matchup along with Sandhagen and Dillashaw being former teammates, the storyline behind this main event becomes more intriguing by the day.