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Cory Sandhagen aims to eliminate returning TJ Dillashaw from bantamweight title race

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UFC Fight Night: Moraes v Sandhagen Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight titleholder TJ Dillashaw hit for the cycle back in early 2019. Not only did he get finished by flyweight kingpin Henry Cejudo at UFC Fight Night 143, he was also forced to surrender his 135-pound strap and serve a two-year drug-test suspension after popping for EPO.

But now that his sentence is nearly served, it’s not unreasonable to think the 34 year-old Dillashaw (16-4) can get himself back into the title race with a commanding performance in early 2021. Unless, of course, someone like Cory Sandhagen blows him out of the water.

“I definitely think my No. 1 contender fight should be against T.J. just because it makes the most sense,” Sandhagen told MMA Fighting. “I think that I have a pretty strong case now, and when T.J. comes back, he’s going to have a pretty strong case. I’d love to fight him and then right after that when the winner of Yan and Sterling are ready to go, fight one of those guys in the spring or sometime.”

The No. 2-ranked Sandhagen (13-2) has won six of seven under the UFC banner, including last month’s technical knockout victory over Marlon Moraes. The Coloradan is certainly a frontrunner to challenge the winner of Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling, who compete for “No Mercy’s” belt at UFC 256.

“This guy can be whatever juice he wants to be on or he can be training with the best guys in the world, it doesn’t matter to me,” Sandhagen continued. “I’m still going to have confidence in myself and that’s where I always put myself before a fight.”

Sounds like UFC matchmakers won’t have to work very hard on this one.