T.J. Dillashaw triumphantly returned to the octagon after a 30-month layoff at UFC Vegas 32. The former bantamweight kingpin overcame a knee injury and a nasty gash he sustained early in the fight to edge rising star Cory Sandhagen via split decision.
There were a lot of questions surrounding Dillashaw’s state ahead of UFC Vegas 32. Dillashaw, however, put on a tremendous performance that shattered doubts regarding his place in the pecking order of the weight class that he once ruled.
Returning at 35-years-old, Dillashaw brought his trademark relentlessness to outwork his former training partner. Based on sheer optics, Dillashaw was clearly the more battered fighter by the end of the fight. However, the judges’ scorecards revealed a different story.
Dillashaw may not have the UFC bantamweight title, but he re-established his status as a top contender at 135 pounds. On the heels of Dillashaw's spectacular comeback at UFC Vegas 32, let’s delve into five reasons why he still might be the best bantamweight in the UFC.
5. T.J. Dillashaw didn't lose a step
Inactivity didn’t appear to be an issue for T.J. Dillashaw, who returned at UFC Vegas 32 after missing action for more than two years. Conor McGregor insists that a lengthy hiatus is a huge hurdle to overcome. However, Miesha Tate and Dillashaw proved in back-to-back weeks that, with proper preparation, it isn’t the case at all.
The former champ looked like the Dillashaw of old with his striking looking sharp and his grappling still something he can utilize to slow his opponent down. Also, Dillashaw’s relentlessness is still a huge part of his arsenal as he largely controls the tempo of his UFC Vegas 32 return fight.
Even more impressive than his physical tools being present, Dillashaw proved that he’s in a good state of mind. A huge portion of analysts and fans were worried that Dillashaw would not get his mojo back right away, but of course, it turned out not to be an issue.
The setbacks he suffered in 2019 – an embarrassing TKO loss to Henry Cejudo and an even more embarrassing positive test for performance-enhancing drugs – could have broken someone who isn’t as mentally strong as Dillashaw. Call it confidence or arrogance, but whatever T.J. Dillashaw uses to fuel his resolve is definitely something he did not lose.