UFC on ESPN 27 – July 24, 2021: TJ Dillashaw vs Cory Sandhagen

Fight Study (7/24/21)


Former bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw, returns to the octagon to face the division’s 2nd ranked contender, Cory Sandhagen, in a fight that figures to help define the division going forward. Sandhagen is the favorite in this matchup and will carry the higher DFS salaries on Saturday. He is available on DraftKings for the price of $8,800 and on Fanduel for $22. Dillashaw can be entered into lineups for $7,400 and $17 respectively. As the Main Event, this fight is scheduled for 5 rounds of fight action, however, current odds point toward an earlier conclusion as this fight is a -300 favorite to end before reaching a decision.

Dillashaw won the bantamweight title from Renan Barao back in 2014 but relinquished the title shortly after to Dominick Cruz. He regained the title 3 years later by defeating Cody Garbrandt. He would eventually lose the title again, this time of his own volition after failing a drug test following his loss to Henry Cejudo (in a flyweight bout), in his last fight in January of 2019. Dillashaw was suspended by USADA for his positive test results and has not fought since. He is 16-4 as a professional with 8 wins by KO/TKO, 3 wins by submission and 5 wins by decision. He was a high school and collegiate wrestler before beginning his MMA career. He 4 losses to date have come at the hands of some of the best fighters in the UFC’s flyweight and bantamweight divisions – John Dodson, Raphael Assuncao Dominick Cruz and Henry Cejudo.

Sandhagen has a career record of 14-2 with 6 wins by KO/TKO, 3 wins by submission and 5 wins by decision. Over his last 10 fights he has lost just once – to current bantamweight champ, Aljamain Sterling. Sandhagen is a very tall bantamweight and will have a massive 5 inch height advantage on Saturday as well as a 3 inch reach advantage. He likes to put his length to good use and will do his best to maintain his distance against Dillashaw on Saturday. In his most recent fight, he took just 28 seconds to secure a KO via flying knee over Frankie Edgar in February of 2021.

This fight will be a battle of styles. Dillashaw has high level wrestling and will need to take this fight to the ground in order to nullify the length of Sandhagen. For his part, Sandhagen will be content to touch up Dillashaw from distance where he can use his jab to keep Dillashaw from implementing his game plan. Against Sterling, Sandhagen was submitted in the first round after the champ was able to take the fight to the ground and finished him by rear-naked choke. Dillashaw doesn’t have the speed of Sterling, nor does he have Sterling’s massive reach of 71 inches. In order to defeat Sandhagen, Dillashaw will have to find a way to bring this fight to the ground where he will have the edge.

Given Dillashaw’s hiatus from the octagon and his significant deficits in both height and reach, I don’t believe he has a strong chance against Sandhagen who is one of the best fighters in this division. Still, the former champ has the skills to be a danger to any opponent he faces. In GPP contests, both fighters are worth some consideration, but Sandhagen will get the vast majority of lineups between the two in multi-entry contests for my money. However, I will reserve some lineups for Dillashaw in 150-max contests as I believe he is a live underdog. I would not be surprised if Sandhagen gets an early finish, though, and recommend caution when rostering Dillashaw. Ultimately, Sandhagen is the superior play on both platforms and in all formats.

That’s all for this edition of Fight Study. For more advice on DFS contests for MMA, click HERE.

About Rob

Since getting out of the casino business, Rob has been playing DFS regularly with a focus on MMA and the NFL. He now lives in Denver, CO.

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