Las Vegas, NV — “It was a tough-fought fight,” T.J. Dillashaw exclaimed following his first win in over two years. The victory came atop this weekend’s UFC Vegas 32 card, scene of the former bantamweight champ’s return from a 24-month suspension stemming from a 2019 drug test failure. “Pushed the pace, I wanted to make sure everyone knew that I still have that cardio.”
Dillashaw admitted backstage Saturday that he was a little extra nervous ahead of the match-up with Cory Sandhagen — though he did try to hide that fact. Critical of his own performance, he added that “for me, I’m happy with the performance, I got the win, but I can do a lot better than that,” at one point referring to his showing as “lazy.”
That lazy approach cost Dillashaw dearly in the third round, when he was hit by a Sandhagen flying knee — the same technique he used to finish former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar earlier this year.
“Luckily it wasn’t flush. He was up there, he had good timing on it when I was coming in,” recalled Dillashaw. “He landed down in and he landed that reverse triangle, where I postured up in it. I think it was what cut my nose, because I think I remember myself bleeding after I was in that weird triangle.”
Ultimately, Dillashaw added he was “not rocked enough to where I didn’t know what I was doing.”
As to what comes next, Dillashaw has his eye on the prize. “I want my belt back. It’s my belt, I want it back, I wasn’t impressed with their last fight. I think [Petr] Yan’s going to get the win, Aljamain [Sterling] did not look very good, and that’s who I see fighting next.”
Sterling vs. Yan 2 is expected to take place in Abu Dhabi at UFC 267 in October. And if the UFC asks, Dillashaw is willing to serve as a back-up for the fight. “Sure. What kind of question— I want to fight for the belt, man. Hell yeah.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 32 post-fight press conference with T.J. Dillashaw above.