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Dillashaw vs Sandhagen

When you look back at the history of performance-enhancing drugs, they tend to be looked at as some magic potion, a magical injection or pill that completely alters the wireframe and code of an athlete’s ability to perform.

This goes with all actual athletes. When you look at baseball for example, do PED’s help in spots? Sure. However, it doesn’t give you the hand-eye coordination needed to get around on the ball. Someone like Barry Bonds was a first-ballot Hall of Famer before the juice.

As a matter of fact, he was in the 40/40 club in 1996 before all of it. Case and point, in fighting, it doesn’t give you the ability to move, have better timing, or make you a better striker or grappler. It does help in certain areas, but you still need a certain high baseline of ability. If steroids made the athlete, then let’s face it, bodybuilders would be the greatest athletes in the world for the amount of drugs they take. 

When you look back at the history of performance-enhancing drugs, they tend to be looked at as some magic potion, a magical injection or pill that completely alters the wireframe and code of an athlete’s ability to perform.

This goes with all actual athletes. When you look at baseball for example, do PED’s help in spots? Sure. However, it doesn’t give you the hand-eye coordination needed to get around on the ball. Someone like Barry Bonds was a first-ballot Hall of Famer before the juice.

As a matter of fact, he was in the 40/40 club in 1996 before all of it. Case and point, in fighting, it doesn’t give you the ability to move, have better timing, or make you a better striker or grappler. It does help in certain areas, but you still need a certain high baseline of ability. If steroids made the athlete, then let’s face it, bodybuilders would be the greatest athletes in the world for the amount of drugs they take.

However, there is a stigma that if you take steroids in sports, get caught and then come off of them, you become a shell of the man or woman that you were before you even started using. That couldn’t be the farther from the truth.

Another issue with this stigma is the media and analysts no clue about the world of anabolics. These folks hear the word “steroids” and think instantaneous muscle. This is simply false, and they should not be able to discuss, challenge, write or talk about a subject like this when they have no education on the topic.

Once again, do not get it twisted. I am not saying that certain PED’s will not give you an edge — because they will — but an edge is far different than making and breaking the skills of a fighter. The biggest pitfall in PED’s is not the physical. It is the mental. The biggest edge that you get with it is your confidence level, and when it all stops, you then have inner wars within yourself mentally. Some people can handle it and some can’t.

You need to be a mentally strong human to understand that. The amounts taken in sports are trace amounts for an edge, and although they help, if you discontinue or erase everything an athlete has done due to small doses of PED’s a few times in their career, to me, that’s is foolish. I honestly challenge anyone that wants to have an educated debate on this topic.

T.J. Dillashaw

When you look at T.J. Dillashaw’s career in its entirety, he has had a very successful career, fighting and beating some of the very best in the game. He has had his ups and downs like any fighter has, but the biggest black eye to him was when he got popped for EPO which took him away from the game until now since March of 2019.

EPO is produced in the kidneys and helps regulate red red blood cell count. When injected, it is usually used to help with chronic anemia or final stages of kidney dysfunctions. That is what it is really used for. However, when used in sport, EPO plays a few functions, but one major function is the recovery process. EPO is proven to help with the recovery process after traumatic stress on the body. 

It also gives you an edge in the cardiovascular department because the red blood cells shuttle oxygen to the muscles which they require for performance. While Dillashaw’s reasoning for the EPO usage is unclear, it shouldn’t define him as an athlete or fighter.

With a record of 16-4, he has eight KO’s and three submissions. In his four losses, he has been stopped twice only by way of KO. The former Division I wrestler has a well-rounded game with plenty of movement, crisp striking, solid grappling and athletic ability that ties it all together.

I would say that the one thing that has always concerned me with him is his chin. Even though he has only been finished two times, he has been put on rubbery legs numerous occasions in his career, and as you get older, those situations become more and more of regularity.

However, if you look at the landscape of his career, he was the sole reason that Renan Barrao’s career took a complete nose dive. After winning 31-straight fights, Barrao’s record after losing to Dillashaw spiraled the opposite way with two losses to T.J. and a remaining record of 2-8.

With wins against Raphael Assuncao, John Linekar and two heated matchups between him and Cody Garbrandt, it seems there were very few high-level guys in the mix that wouldn’t be able to get by.

Now we sit back and wonder, how good Dillashaw is and ifnhis wins against Garbrandt are that relevant in hindsight after seeing the fall of Cody at this point in time against some other fighters. Another thing we need to really think about is the  two-year layoff. Will T.J. have the same timing in the cage that he needs to really fight the way his style calls for? He takes on a very similar style athlete in Cory Sandhagen. 

Cory Sandhagen

Sandhagen is very awkward and fluid in his approach and really understands how to use his length and range to his advantage. An extremely well-rounded fighter in his own right, Sandhagen comes to us with a 14-2 record, with six wins by KO and three wins by way of decision.

In his two losses, he has been submitted once. Sandhagen hit a major roadblock against Aljamain Sterling when he was outclassed on the mat and basically put to sleep in the very first round. Is that an indictment of his style or his fighting ability? Absolutely not.

I am a huge advocate of Sandhagen, and I have been since before he came into the UFC. Cory and T.J. spent a lot of time together in the gym and know each other very very well. They understand each other’s nuances and have seen numerous different looks with their time in the training grounds together.

How I See This Fight Shaking Out

However, these are different times. Things evolve, people adjust, and the game changes. The one thing about Dillashaw is that he can literally play chameleon. He can show you a different look every round for five rounds. You may think you made an adjustment against him in Round 1, but then Round 2 he is a completely different fighter.

With that said, the time off for Dillashaw is concerning. He does look a little older, he doesn’t look as fresh as Cory, and that is something that is raising my eyebrow a bit. However, if the chin holds up — which at this point in time is a major if — I just feel T.J. is the more proven and better fighter.

I think Dillashaw is one of the smarter, more capable fighters in the sport today, and if he can start flowing early, I think Sandhagen will need to really adjust many times in this fight, unless of course Dillashaw is just not the same fighter coming off the layoff.

I think this fight will be a game of adjustments, and I have seen T.J. adjust to so many different styles on so many different occasions, that its hard to believe that he will be the one to run out of situational tricks. My only two concerns keep boiling back to the layoff and him looking a little more aged (could be the beard). Outside of that, it is a really tough sell for me to pick against Dillashaw here. Give me the dog in this spot.

The Pick: T.J. Dillashaw

DFS Breakdown

  • Dillashaw: $7400
  • 100+ Points: 6 of 10
  • Current Market Value: 7 of 10
  • Hedge: 6 of 10

The layoff is a little worrisome for me considering T.J. is a timing fighter. Durability is also a concern coming into this fight. However, it is still a very dangerous T.J. Dillashaw. People seem to leave you for dead the minute something happens, and if more people were educated about EPO and PED’s, then they would understand the facts about them and how they work. Instead, the Twitter doctors tend to grab your attention. If T.J. loses this fight, it has zero to do with EPO or PED’s. DraftKings and the masses seem to think Dillashaw is  purely a product of drugs, and I beg to differ. There is value here. 

 

  • Sandhagen: $8800
  • 100+ Points: 4 of 8
  • Current Market Value: 7 of 8
  • Hedge: 5 of 10

Sandhagen is a very good fighter with similar style to Dillashaw. There is no doubt that he is the fresher fighter, and there is also no doubt that he can finish T.J. if he finds the mark. $8800 is a little steep for me, but whoever wins most likely finishes the other. Sandhagen has a big opportunity in front of him, and although I see it being a much more competitive fight than many think, Sandhagen has the goods to get it done. 

Vegas: Over 1.5 (-175)