Exclusive: Cory Sandhagen Says It ‘Wasn’t Cool’ For TJ Dillashaw to go Into Title Fight Injured: ‘That’s His Way of Living’

Cory Sandhagen shared his thoughts on TJ Dillashaw's retirement and going into his bantamweight title fight with Aljamain Sterling injured

Cory Sandhagen
Courtesy of @ESPNMMA on Twitter

Cory Sandhagen believes TJ Dillashaw’s retirement was the right move after a disastrous return to the Octagon last year.

Dillashaw returned from a two-year suspension for banned substances from the New York State Athletic Commission in 2021, scoring a split decision win over Sandhagen in 2021. Suffering a knee injury during the bout, Dillashaw would once again find himself on the shelf for more than a year but made a not-so-triumphant return at UFC 280 in October to challenge reigning bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling. 

Dillashaw put up little fight, suffering a separated shoulder in the early going of the contest. The bout was eventually stopped in the second round after his corner frantically tried to work his shoulder back into place. Shortly after the loss, Dillashaw announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, citing a laundry list of injuries sustained over the years. Speaking with James Lynch in a MiddleEasy exclusive, Sandhagen truly believes that Dillashaw’s retirement is the right decision for the former two-time bantamweight titleholder. 

“I think that that’s the right call for TJ. I think he really blew it in his last title shot. I don’t even know who the UFC would match him up with. He’s getting a little bit older. He’s set in life. I do know that TJ is one of the most competitive guys that I know so that’s the only thing that’s going to keep him in the loop or at least keep his imagination in the world of fighting, but I don’t think it would be a wise warrior move to continue to fight. 

Cory Sandhagen Believes TJ Dillashaw Will Stay Retired

With fighters routinely retiring only to return months later, Cory Sandhagen believes that TJ Dillashaw will truly stay retired, even if he still has the competitive juices flowing through his body. 

“I think he will stay retired. I think TJ’s a pretty smart guy. I wonder how much of the becoming not retired is them missing the sport and then how much of it is them realizing that where can I make that much money in one night anywhere else. Maybe real life kind of kicks them in the a** after they retire.

“I wonder how much of that is each of those, but I don’t really forsee TJ coming back because he needs a lot more money. I think that TJ’s probably doing pretty well for himself. The only thing that would bring him back is the desire to compete and like I said, that’s just not a wise move where he is in his life.”

As far as Dillashaw’s last stand inside the Octagon at UFC 280, Sandhagen believes the former two-time champion could have been more forthcoming about his injury going into the fight, potentially opening up an opportunity for another fighter to get their shot. 

“I thought that it wasn’t cool. I think he didn’t handle that situation like a gentleman. While you don’t have to care super deeply and compassionately about your opponents because it’s hard to do that when you’re competing against them at a high level, I do think you have to have some levels of compassion for the other people that are in your division. I think that he showed a giant lack of compassion and caring about the other people in his division. That’s his way of living. I don’t really judge it too harshly, but I do think it was not that cool of a move.”

 

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