The fight between Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw was one of the closest in recent memory. In the aftermath of losing this split decision, the Sandman assesses his performance and looks ahead to what he wants next.
There were a lot of complaints about the judging at UFC Vegas 32, and that did not stop with the main event. When Dillashaw picked up the split decision in his first fight in over two years against Sandhagen, the MMA community seemed genuinely split on how this fight should have been scored, a testament to how close and competitive it was.
Speaking in his first interview after the loss, Cory took a look at how he did, and why he may have ended up on the wrong side of the decision. All things considered, his view on things was pretty level, making it clear that he felt like he had done enough to win, but understanding that there was more he could have done.
“I definitely think I did more damage in the fight, I think I kept myself really safe, I stuffed all of his takedowns… It’s really hard because I feel like I fought a really safe and smart fight, but I do think I could have done more to sway the judges and get the nod from them, which is really the important part when it goes five rounds,” Sandhagen said.
“Round one, I figured that I lost because obviously I spent so much time on my back. Even though it wasn’t a ton of time on my back, it was still a good amount of time… I was chasing submissions, I was trying to finish him with something pretty early…
“I agree, okay I lost that round. Second round I definitely won,” Sandhagen continued. “Three and four, to me, were the closest ones. In those rounds, TJ was definitely being more of an aggressor. I thought I was keeping myself really safe and was landing the cleaner shots even in those rounds.
“I stuffed all of his takedowns. If you look at the stats, he shot 19 times and only got 2 of them… So three and four I think were really close. I think five I was able to take it, again just by being cleaner and I think he wasn’t able to do a lot in round five. So that’s kind of how I had it judged.”
A Different TJ Dillashaw
One of the big stories in the build up to this fight was that Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw used to train together, and had sparring sessions together. Many people made a lot of this situation, saying that Cory got the better of TJ in training and that would be the case in the cage.
In the end, Cory says that TJ approached their fight in a very different way than he looked in the gym. He explained that the former champ did not use the type of footwork that he used in sparring, and used more grappling than expected.
“Yeah, this was a different TJ. TJ did not come out, he didn’t try to do a bunch of fancy footwork. In his head, I think he was like ‘I need to march Cory down for the entire fight in order for me to win this,’ and I think that was in his head because honestly he was way easier to hit than I thought he would be,” Sandhagen said.
“He was a lot closer in range than I thought he would stand. Usually he stays a little bit farther out and then kind of rushes into that range, but he wasn’t doing that, he was just kind of hanging out in my range. That’s what I felt was different, is that he wasn’t using his defensive elusiveness nearly as much as he has in the past, and he was a little bit easier to hit.”
What’s Next For Cory Sandhagen?
After UFC Vegas 32, Cory Sandhagen said that he got a pinky promise from Sean Shelby that he was just one win away from getting a title shot. It seems that he knows exactly who he wants that one win to be against.
“I would love to fight Rob Font. I think Rob Font’s an amazing fighter,” Sandhagen said.
“I think T.J.’s probably gonna have to take some time after this fight, just seeing that his knee and his cut and all that. He might even need until those guys are ready to fight for that championship fight.”
How did you score the fight between Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw? Do you want to see Cory face Rob Font next?