LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 06: In this handout image provided by UFC, Cory Sandhagen lands a flying knee to knock out Frankie Edgar in their bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Preview and prediction for Cory Sandhagen vs. T.J. Dillashaw at UFC Vegas 32.

For the first time in over two years, former two-time UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw steps into the Octagon, as he faces highly-touted bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen in the main event of UFC Vegas 32.

Coming off a successful stint in the LFA, Sandhagen quickly made his mark in the UFC and rose up through the bantamweight division with wins over Iuri Alcantara, Mario Bautista, John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao. Sandhagen was quickly submitted by current champ Aljamain Sterling at UFC 250 but rebounded in major ways with highlight finishes of Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar.

Dillashaw will be returning to the UFC after serving a two-year suspension for a positive EPO drug test. Dillashaw’s first reign as bantamweight champ began when he finished Renan Barao at UFC 173 in what is still to this day arguably the greatest upset in UFC history. Dillashaw defended the title against Joe Soto and Barao before dropping it to Dominick Cruz.

He’d rebound with wins over Assuncao and Lineker before regaining the title by finishing teammate-turned-rival Cody Garbrandt — and then defeating Garbrandt in a rematch. Dillashaw unsuccessfully challenged Henry Cejudo for the UFC flyweight title prior to the failed drug test.

Who will win at UFC Vegas 32: Cory Sandhagen or T.J. Dillashaw?

Per the Tale of the Tape, Sandhagen will come in with a five-inch height and three-inch reach advantage. Looking at FightMetrics, both Sandhagen and Dillashaw are high-volume strikers, with Sandhagen’s offense just a bit better by the numbers and Dillashaw’s defense a bit better by the same standard.

Both score at least a takedown a fight on average, with Dillashaw holding the better ratio per 15 minutes, but Dillashaw’s takedown accuracy is nowhere close to his defense — so expect quite a bit of trading on the feet in this one.

It’s a shame at the Sterling vs. Petr Yan fight from UFC 259 ended how it did. Because if it wasn’t for that controversial DQ, title change ending, Sandhagen should be fighting for a championship based on his run and his major knockouts of late.

Sandhagen has got some great striking, excellent speed, and even some decent ground game. He has shown that he can take on some of the best that the UFC bantamweight division has to offer — and that includes Dillashaw.

Dillashaw is without a doubt etched in UFC 135-pound history, there are a lot of questions surrounding him. Will he have any ring rust? Will any of that be shaken off by his training alongside the likes of Juan Archuleta and Cub Swanson? How different will he look and feel after the layoff (and connected to that, how long has he been using EPO)?

That all being said, Sandhagen cannot get overconfident or complacent. Dillashaw has been a hard guy to finish minus the Cejudo fight, and he has laid a path of destruction at 135 since his first championship win.

It won’t be easy and Dillashaw will pressure him, but if Sandhagen can pull this off, there should be no doubt he deserves the winner of the Sterling-Yan rematch.

Prediction: Sandhagen via split decision

UFC Vegas 32 takes place on July 24, 2021, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided, who is cageside, for all your live news and highlights.

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