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UFC Vegas: Sandhagen vs Dillashaw - Jul 24 🇺🇸


wandshogun09
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Posted (edited)

On the same night that Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will tangle for a third time, the UFC returns to Vegas with this lot…

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Cory Sandhagen vs TJ Dillashaw

Kyler Phillips vs Raulian Paiva 

Darren Elkins vs Darrick Minner 

Maycee Barber vs Miranda Maverick

Randy Costa vs Adrian Yanez   

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Punahele Soriano vs Brendan Allen

Ian Heinisch vs Nassourdine Imavov

Mickey Gall vs Jordan Williams

Julio Arce vs Andre Ewell

Sijara Eubanks vs Elise Reed 

Diana Belbita vs Hannah Goldy

 

Seems to be the final bout order. Looks a bit wonky but this is the proper order apparently. No idea why Ladd vs Chiasson is co-main and why Gall vs Williams is on the main card when there are bangers like Costa vs Yanez and Soriano vs Allen slumming it on the prelims but whatever. Really strong for a Fight Night all in all. Quality main event with a bunch of different backstories and title implications. And, like I said, some killer fights on the undercard as well.

 

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Cory Sandhagen vs TJ Dillashaw tops the bill. It was originally set to headline a card in May but Dillashaw suffered a cut in training and it got postponed. Let’s hope it goes ahead this time. It’s an interesting one. No easing TJ back in gently here. He’s straight in with one of the best young Bantamweights in the world right off the bat. Sandhagen’s a fighter I’ve been pretty high on for a while now. He came into the UFC back in 2018 at 7-1. The first time I remember taking notice of him was his second fight in the UFC. He took on BJJ black-belt Iuri Alcantara and came from behind to get the TKO victory. A really impressive display of heart and composure. After that he submitted Mario Bautista and won decisions against John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao. No joke. He hit a big roadblock last June when Aljamain Sterling subbed him but he’s came back with a vengeance since then. He put Marlon Moraes away with a spinning wheel kick in October. Then in February this year, he scored the biggest win of his career, in the most devastating fashion possible, when he wiped Frankie Edgar the fuck out with a flying knee that would’ve put a rhinoceros to sleep.

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Colder than a polar bear’s toenails. Sandhagen’s done well to almost completely erase the memory of the Aljo loss. He’s on the cusp of title contention again and a win here over a former champion would go a long way towards securing that title shot later this year. Depending on how this whole Sterling vs Yan saga plays out, of course. He’s got to get past this beady eyed berk first though.

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Old PED DiBiase returns.

Dillashaw was the man at 135 for a while. The man who ended the reign of Renan Barao. People forget now, such was the plummet of Barao’s career, but he was being talked about as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the game around 2012-14. He was scary. Yet in two fights, over the span of about 7 and a half rounds, Dillashaw completely wrecked him and Barao never recovered from it. Dillashaw was the new King and Barao slid down the card and into obscurity at such an alarming rate that it’s almost as if he was never there. After that, Dillashaw lost the belt in a close decision against Dominick Cruz but got it back from Cody Garbrandt, knocking him out in back-to-back fights.

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It wasn’t to the extreme of Barao’s fall from grace but, for me, Garbrandt‘s also not been the same since either. TJ was starting to develop a bit of a rep as a career killer. Ironically, the next career he’d derail would be his own. In January 2019, Dillashaw dropped down to Flyweight in an attempt to become a two division champion. He took on Henry Cejudo and the talk at the time was that the UFC were looking to bin the Flyweight division and Dillashaw was basically the hired gun who they enlisted to kill it off. Had TJ beat Lego boy, the Flyweight division would likely have been dissolved and TJ would just go back up to Bantamweight and crack on from there. But Cejudo chinned Dillashaw in 32 seconds and that was that. The knockout paled in comparison to the aftermath of the fight though.

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Dillashaw flunked his pre and post-fight USADA tests. Badly. He popped for EPO, relinquished the Bantamweight title and was handed a 2 year suspension. Absolute disaster. There was all kinds of speculation when the story broke. Was Dillashaw failing the test here a one-off and a case of him taking shortcuts to make the 125lb limit for the first time? Or was he always a dirty little cheat? Right or wrong, it cast doubt on his whole career and it wasn’t helped by old Garbrandt quotes being dug up, from as far back as 2017, where he accused TJ of being a cheat, and specifically mentioned EPO as his PED of choice. Whatever the case, none of it was a good look. Now the suspension is up, TJ’s back and he’s talking a good game. I’m guessing he’s the one who pushed for a top contender as well. So as much of a prick as he is, fair play for that at least. He could’ve taken an easier return fight than this, a 3 rounder against a lower ranked guy. If he comes back and beats someone like Sandhagen, he’s immediately back in the hunt. And if Sandhagen wins, that’ll be back-to-back wins over Edgar and Dillashaw, he’ll be undeniable as the next in line against Sterling/Yan. It’s a weird one because who knows what we’re getting from Dillashaw after 2 years away? But I like the matchup a lot.

 

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Kyler Phillips vs Raulian Paiva. This wasn’t the original plan. Phillips was all set to face Raphael Assuncao on this card. That would’ve been a big opportunity for him, facing a respected name in the division and catching him on the slide. The timing seemed perfect for a nice win there but it wasn’t to be. For a while I just saw Phillips as some Russell Brand lookalike prelim ham and egger but he’s looked good recently. He’s 26 years old, 9-1 and has won his last 4 straight. Had a cracking fight with Song Yadong at UFC 259 in March as well, his best win and overall performance to date. Assuncao would’ve been a logical next step but what can you do? Phillips looks a bit of a handful. We just don’t know how good he is yet. Time will tell. Paiva is 25 with a solid 20-3 record and is coming off a couple of wins. Not a lot sticking out in the memory about him.

 

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Darren Elkins vs Darrick Minner. Could be a bit of a sleeper actually. It’s got real potential to be a bit of a grappling war. Elkins is a BJJ brown-belt and NCAA Division II wrestler. And Minner has 26 wins in MMA, 22 of them via submission. No strangers to the mat these two. Hopefully they do grapple. That’s where this fight will be at its best. Problem is, all too often when you get two strong grapplers in there, they cancel each other out and it turns into a stalemate. Or they avoid the ground altogether and have a mediocre Kickboxing match. Elkins has a habit of bleeding like he’s Ric Flair in the 80s as well. At this point I think a sudden sneeze could see half his face come off. Whatever happens, I’m expecting a lively one out of these two. Either a fun ground battle or another Darren The Damage bloodbath.

 

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Maycee Barber vs Miranda Maverick. Quite like this actually. Both are just 23 years old and still a work in progress but they’ve both shown flashes of promise and they fight with serious aggression. Barber went 8-0 with 7 finishes initially and was starting to get hyped up by Dana White. That’s hit a brick wall though and she’s dropped consecutive decision losses to Roxanne Modafferi and Alexa Grasso in her last two. Maverick is where most of my interest lies here. Ever since her UFC debut where she splattered Liana Jojua’s nose with this gnarly elbow, I’ve been on board.

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Vile. She followed that up with a points win over Gillian Robertson at UFC 260 in March and looked good again. She’s 9-2 now and has won 5 in a row. There’s still work to be done but she’s got some time. I really think she might be one for the future at Flyweight. Barber will bring it so this should be fun, but I expect Maverick to get the job done.

 

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Randy Costa vs Adrian Yanez is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** this time and it was an easy choice. Can’t bastard wait for this. Why this is so far down the card I don’t know. I’d have had it as co-main event personally. It should’ve at least been on the main card. Two of the better prospects and most exciting new blood Bantamweights on the roster squaring off. If you haven’t seen these two before you need to get on Fight Pass immediately. I’ve seen a grand total of 4 fights combined from these guys and, in just 2 fights from each, they’re both must see TV already for me. Costa is 6-1 with 6 knockouts, all in the first round, 4 of them in less than a minute! He sparked Boston Salmon in a 2 minute barnburner the first time I saw him. Then kicked Journey Newson’s face off in just 41 seconds in his last fight.

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He’s looked wild and a bit reckless so far but he’s been great to watch. On top of that, he trains at ATT now and was originally a protégé of Joe Lauzon. What’s not to like? Yanez might be even more exciting though. He’s 13-3 with 10 finishes, mostly knockouts, he’s on a 6 fight winning streak, scored a quick knockout on Dana’s Contender Series to get in the door and he’s been ace in his first 2 fights in the Octagon.

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That’s his UFC career so far, summed up in one gif. A nasty headkick KO against Victor Rodriguez in October. Then a sniper like, lightning fast right hand put Gustavo Lopez down in March. It was so fast that you could hardly see it connect in real time. He caught a lot of attention off that performance especially, and even had Teddy Atlas raving about him on Twitter.

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That’s just one of a series of glowing tweets Teddy put out on Yanez. 

The cool thing about this matchup, besides the fan friendly styles, is that it actually came about almost entirely through the power of social media. After Yanez’s win over Lopez in March, both men respectfully expressed interest in fighting each other on Twitter. From there it grew legs and fans were all over it, tweeting and retweeting, tagging the UFC, Dana White and Sean Shelby in and all sorts. By late April the fight was signed and announced. Ordinarily I don’t think the UFC would’ve been in a rush to pit two of their brightest young Bantamweights in there with each other so early on but with both men campaigning for it and universally positive reaction from fans, I guess it was hard to ignore. So yeah, I’m a bit excited about this one.

 

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Punahele Soriano vs Brendan Allen. Really like the sound of this. Soriano quickly got my attention as someone well worth keeping tabs on and tuning in for. He’s Hawaiian, undefeated at 8-0 with 7 finishes, trains at Xtreme Couture. He made his UFC debut on the Usman vs Covington undercard back in December 2019. And waffled poor Oskar Piechota for a horrific first round knockout.

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Fuck me. The way his neck and head go all floppy there reminds me of when Ray Mercer nearly killed Tommy Morrison years ago. Looked like a crash test dummy. He followed that with another first round stoppage, although nowhere near as brutal as the Piechota one, over Dusko Todorovic in January. He’s doing pretty well for himself. Watching his last fight, he does seem to rely on his power a bit too much and I can see that being his undoing at some stage. But he’s one of those fighters who it’s gonna be difficult to have a shit fight with. Brendan Allen might just have the game to expose some weaknesses though. He’s 16-4 and a BJJ black-belt with submission wins over Kevin Holland and Karl Roberson, a TKO over Tom Breese and a points win in a war over Kyle Daukaus. He’s no joke. We haven’t seen Soriano on the ground much so far in the UFC. If he’s lacking there at all, Allen has the ground game to give him all kinds of problems. Love the clash of styles here.

 

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Ian Heinisch vs Nassourdine Imavov. It’s just filling a slot on the card really. Might be alright, not that fussed. Heinisch runs hot and cold. He’s had a couple of really solid wins over the likes of Meerschaert and Shoeface but he can’t get over that hump at the next level as we’ve seen when he’s came up short against Brunson and Gastelum. He’s probably gonna be stuck in that middle of the pack spot now where he’s better than most but not good enough to hang with the big boys. I remember fuck all of this Imavov bloke. He’s 9-3 with 7 finishes and lost a decision to Phil Hawes in his last fight in February.

 

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Mickey Gall vs Jordan Williams. Eh, it’s there. Can’t say I give much of a shite. It’s mad to think now but Gall had some pretty high expectations on him at one point.

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Yeah, the CM Punk win meant nothing but it got eyes on him. He played that whole thing well. Then he stopped Sage Northcutt when Sage had some real hype on him. That was a legit win. At just 4-0, people were buzzing about Gall. BJJ black-belt, Miller brothers student, wasn’t shy about gobbing off and calling names out to challenge. It went off the boil rapidly though. He’s 6-3 now. He’s still the right side of 30, there is some time to claw it back maybe. But losses to a faded Diego Sanchez and shitehawk Mike Perry don’t fill you with hope that he can turn it around. Williams is 30 with a record of 9-4-0-1 and 8 finishes. He knocked out Gregory Rodrigues (Barack Obama lookalike bloke) on DWCS but lost his UFC debut against Nassourdine Imavov in October.

 

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Julio Arce vs Andre Ewell. Could be a fun little clash of 135ers here. I really like Arce (behave). He’s not a guy I see Goldberging his way through the division or anything but he’s definitely got skills and I think he’s gone under the radar a tad so far. I think he could be a real potential banana skin for a lot of guys. He’s 16-4 and coming off a split decision loss to Hakeem Dawodu. But before that he’d looked sensational against Julian Erosa and stopped him with a vicious headkick.

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Absolutely ruthless. He also beat Dan Ige in 2018. Only thing is he’s been inactive now since late 2019 so there’s always the risk he comes in a bit rusty. Ewell’s 17-7 and nothing special really but he’s usually in entertaining fights on the prelims. He beat Renan Barao in his UFC debut but by then Barao was well shot. Arce should be winning this but that layoff is giving me doubts. Can’t see it being anything less than a fast paced, all action type fight however long it lasts though.

 

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Sijara Eubanks vs Elise Reed. Ugh. I’ve never got on board with Eubanks. Even when she was being bigged up as some female Mike Tyson back when she was on TUF. Just never rated her. She’s had a couple of decent wins, in fairness, but she’s 6-6 now, coming off back-to-back losses, at 36 years old. She’s just not cutting it in the UFC and if her record drops to 6-7 here, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she’s shown the door. She was supposed to fight Priscila Cachoeira here but that’s off. Octagon newcomer Elise Reed steps up on a few weeks notice. Never heard of her. Sherdog tells me she’s 28 years old, 4-0 with 2 finishes. She’s the Cage Fury Strawweight champ and has fought as low as Atomweight. So her going up to Flyweight here, on short notice, and with limited experience, is a bit of an ask.

 

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Diana Belbita vs Hannah Goldy. Haven’t seen enough of either to judge one way or another, to be fair. Belbita’s Romanian, 25 years old with a record of 13-6 and 10 finishes. She’s 0-2 so far in the UFC and got armbarred quick in her last fight against Liana Jojua. Goldy is American, 29 years old and 5-1 so far. She beat Gillian Robertson in her MMA debut back in 2016, beat a few no names after that but then dropped a decision to Miranda Granger in her UFC debut. Hasn’t fought since 2019. Like I say, I’ve probably seen both but don’t really have any memory of either. Those losses to mediocre opposition like Jojua and Granger respectively don’t exactly fill me with hope though.

 

Your average UK fan trying to stay up and watch this live…

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Edited by wandshogun09
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7 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

Dillashaw was the man at 135 for a while. The man who ended the reign of Renan Barao. People forget now, such was the plummet of Barao’s career, but he was being talked about as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the game around 2012-14. He was scary. Yet in two fights, over the span of about 7 and a half rounds, Dillashaw completely wrecked him and Barao never recovered from it. Dillashaw was the new King and Barao slid down the card and into obscurity at such an alarming rate that it’s almost as if he was never there.

Correct. It was a major upset when he beat Barao - https://www.bestfightodds.com/events/ufc-173-barao-vs-dillashaw-786

I'd actually forgotten about Barao myself until your post. 

Edited by jimufctna24
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Posted (edited)

Updated the opening post with what seems to be the final bout order for Saturday. Costa vs Yanez on the prelims while fucking Gall vs Williams is on the main card and Ladd vs Chiasson is the co-main event baffles me to be honest. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that I’ve seen just as much talk and buzz on social media about Costa vs Yanez as I have about Sandhagen vs Dillashaw. If not more.

Just saw this as well, which is interesting. Dan Hooker talking about a sparring session between Sandhagen and Dillashaw years ago.

I did read recently that they’d trained together in the past but it’s good to get insight from someone who was there on the mats with them at the time and witnessed it. Obviously, you can’t read too much into sparring stories but it’s a cool little story. Especially when you factor in where both guys were in their careers at the time this is supposed to have happened. I’d love to see Sandhagen wipe TJ out like he did to Frankie Edgar. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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2 hours ago, Egg Shen said:

glad you reminded me about Yanez/Costa @wandshogun09i may have skipped the prelims.

I’d stick around for Soriano vs Allen as well. That should be a good one. Honestly, it baffles me why those two fights are below some of the stuff above them. 

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Regardless of his drug failures and just being a general all round d*ck, Dillashaw first fight with Renan Barao will always remain one of my favorite fights ever, it just came out of nowhere it felt. Barao looked so strong at the time, you just never saw him losing let alone in the manner he did.

Prior to that first Dillashaw fight he had lost once (his debut) and after that fight he fought 9 more times, only winning 2. Incredible.

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Barao was probably the first fighter I considered a favourite, because of his sheer ability - he just seemed to have it all, and it didn't seem like anyone had a blueprint to beating him. I really hate that that wanker Dillashaw was not only the one to have his number, but also effectively take his soul and put him on the decline. 

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Has to be, even if Dillashaw gets beaten soundly tomorrow, a Dillashaw/Cody 3 makes sense to me despite how the first two fights ended.

Closer this gets, the more im heavily favouring Sandhagan.

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Two factors at play in this fight for me. The first is the extended layoff for TJ, and the second is that he's now 35 years old. We all know that fighters tend to age quicker the lighter the weight division, and it could be that Dillashaw's time as a top three competitor is coming to an end.

At 29 years old Sandhagen should be hitting his prime right about now.

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