Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone with UFC Vegas 32 blowing the roof off UFC APEX last Sat. night (July 24, 2021) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds including Darrick Minner, who was beat down by Darren Elkins on his way to suffering a second-round technical knockout (TKO) defeat.
And Randy Costa, who suffered a knockout loss at the hands of Adrian Yanez (see it). But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?
Coming into his Bantamweight headliner against former division kingpin T.J. Dillashaw, “The Sandman” was just one win away from earning his first-ever shot at the title. An arduous task to say the least given the fact that “Viper” hasn’t tasted defeat at 135 pounds in five years. Still, Sandhagen had the advantage of being active while Dillashaw was on a two-year hiatus.
But once the fight got going it was clear that ring rust wasn’t a factor for the former 135-pound champion. Across five rounds, the two talented Bantamweights put on a show with both having shining moments. It initially seemed as if Sandhagen had done enough to earn the nod and move on to a title fight because he was winning the striking battles, busting up Dillashaw’s face in the process.
Instead, the judges awarded Dillashaw the split decision win. It was a tough setback since Sandhagen — and many others — felt he had done enough to earn the nod. Sure, “Sandman” could have thrown less spinning attacks which ultimately opened him up to get taken down on more than once occasion. But overall the consensus was the he had done enough to win.
Despite the split decision, Sandhagen was pure class after the fight.
“I don’t think you get to be a zombie, march forward, eat a bunch of shots and then still win in MMA. I think we’re past that. But like I said, I don’t want to be a little whiny baby. I’m going to take it. I’m going get better from it. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m still going to win the world championship. Hopefully still next year,” he said after the fight.
In addition, Sandhagen revealed that he talked to UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby after the fight and he “pinky promised” him that he was not too far away from a shot at the division strap.
Whether or not that holds true remains to be seen. But Sandhagen needs to win his next fight to hold up his end of the deal. And that challenge should come against the loser of the upcoming title fight between division champion Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan, set to go down on Oct. 30.
It only makes sense since Dillashaw will likely face the winner.
Plus, if either Sterling or Yan — whoever comes up short — wants to get back into the title race taking out Sandhagen is a surefire way to get there. For “Sandman,” defeating either one of those combatants — one of whom has a win over him already — definitely puts him back in the mix.