Cory Sandhagen vs. T.J. Dillashaw UFC Fight Night Odds, Pick & Prediction: Former Champ Back From Suspension (July 24)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Cory Sandhagen (left) and TJ Dillashaw.
- Former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw is set to return from a two-year suspension against Cory Sandhagen.
- Sandhagen is coming off a pair of impressive knockouts and faces a potentially rusty Dillashaw, who last fought in January 2019.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down the matchup and where he potentially sees betting value below.
Cory Sandhagen vs. T.J. Dillashaw Odds
A future Bantamweight title challenger could emerge from Saturday’s main event between No. 2 contender Cory Sandhagen and former champion T.J. Dillashaw.
Dillashaw is returning to the octagon after a lengthy suspension for EPO use. He last competed in January 2019, when he suffered a knockout loss in 32 seconds against former flyweight king Henry Cejudo as he sought to become a two-division champion.
Sandhagen has won seven of his eight bouts in the UFC, with his only loss coming by quick submission against current bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling at UFC 250 last June.
Below, I preview the matchup and odds for Saturday’s main event.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||7:02||11:41|
|Weight (pounds)||136 lbs.||136 lbs.|
|Date of birth||4/20/92||2/7/86|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||6.85||5.37|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||3.89||3.03|
|Take Down Avg||1.07||1.68|
Sandhagen is the much larger man, five inches taller with a three-inch-reach advantage, and I would imagine that he moves up to featherweight later in his career, while Dillashaw has competed at flyweight in the past.
In the octagon, these fighters may appear to be in two different weight classes; Sandhagen should have a significant size advantage.
Dillashaw is the more well-rounded fighter and superior technician, but there are major question marks surrounding his durability, cardio and octagon rust after a lengthy suspension.
T.J. sustained a lot of damage in his wars with Cody Garbrandt and John Lineker before falling quickly against Cejudo. And his cardio is a huge question mark after popping for EPO, which stimulates red blood cell production and provides a huge benefit to athletes.
At age 35, he’s also on the wrong side of the developmental curve for this weight class. Even if he’s a fraction slower than he used to be, that’s still a significant downgrade from his championship days.
Dillashaw’s primary advantage in this matchup lies in his grappling (1.37 takedowns per 15 minutes, 37% accuracy), as Sandhagen has struggled to defend takedowns (30%) and has a tendency to give up his long back with ease.
Dillashaw hasn’t submitted an opponent since 2012. Still, he did secure five of six takedowns in three rounds against Lineker (spent 6:53, or about 47% of the fight in control positions), and I think that’s his optimal game plan here.
Sterling put his wrestling to use quickly against Sandhagen and Dillashaw can do the same, but he’s not as high-level of a submission grappler as the champ. However, pursuing takedowns could merely serve to gas Dillashaw out more quickly if his cardio base isn’t as deep as it used to be, and that’s a major concern on the underdog side of things.
Sandhagen has shown excellent durability in the UFC, in addition to excellent cardio since he trains with Elevation Fight Team in Colorado. However, he has never been in a five-round fight, so this is uncharted territory against a former champion.
Sandhagen is a relentless striker, but Dillashaw can match him in terms of output (+2.34 to +2.69) and efficiency (106 to 107 combined strike percentage). The question is whether he can navigate Sandhagen’s physical advantages on the feet or secure takedowns and maintain position against a larger man.
Sandhagen isn’t particularly adept with his scrambles or get-up game, and there’s some potential that he spends a lot of time on his back in this fight or gets repeatedly returned to the mat the moment he does find his feet.
Sandhagen is still young and improving. While making the most out of his length, and an over-eager Dillashaw could find himself on the wrong end of some of Sandhagen’s flashy range attacks.
That said, it’s a tough spot to pick either fighter, with so many question marks on either side of the matchup.
Sandhagen vs. Dillashaw Pick
I projected Sandhagen as a 67% favorite in this fight, and I don’t see actionable value on either side of the moneyline. I would lean to the favorite, but I need a better price to play him.
Furthermore, I projected this fight to end inside the distance 70% of the time (-234 implied), and I don’t see any value on the distance props (Yes listed +225, and No listed -330) or totals.
Given the stylistic nature of the fight, I would lean to the Under – Sandhagen seemingly has knockout upside, while Dillashaw has submission upside.
I set Sandhagen’s odds to win inside the distance at +100 and Dillashaw’s at +400, so I don’t see any value with respect to the listed odds (-120 and +275, respectively). Furthermore, I don’t project any value relative to the decision, knockout or submission props for either fighter.
I would consider buying back on Sandhagen at odds of -180 (65% implied) or better, but unless the line comes down, I’m going to stay away from this fight.
The Pick: Cory Sandhagen (wait for -180 or better)