On a night that featured a main card packed with controversial judges’ decisions, T.J. Dillashaw edged out top bantamweight contender Cory Sandhagen in the main event of UFC Vegas 32 to put himself right back in the title mix.
Dillashaw returned from his two-year USADA anti-doping suspension after testing positive for EPO, and many observers were keen to see how the former undisputed bantamweight champion would fare on his return to the octagon.
The fight was far from easy for Dillashaw, as Sandhagen effectively worked off his back foot and countered the former champion throughout their five-round bout, leaving Dillashaw busted up and with a damaged left knee after catching him in a leglock early in the fight.
But, despite Sandhagen appearing to land the cleaner work and doing visibly more damage than Dillashaw, two of the judges scored the fight in the former champ’s favour, as Dillashaw claimed victory with scores of 47-48, 48-47, 48-47 to mark his return to the cage with a huge win.
The main card featured a pair of contested judges’ decisions, with the women’s flyweight bout between Maycee Barber and Miranda Maverick, plus the co-main event between Kyler Phillips and Raulian Paiva resulting in some questionable scorecards.
The bantamweight co-main bout looked like a clear 28-28 draw after Phillips came within seconds of finishing Paiva after a dominant opening round. But the Brazilian staged a remarkable comeback to clearly win Rounds 2 and 3.
However, with only one judge scoring Round 1 as a 10-8, it meant Paiva ran out the majority decision winner, leaving Phillips wondering what he needed to do to earn a 10-8.
There was also some controversy in the bout between Barber and Maverick, with many observers giving Maverick the first two rounds. But after the judges rendered a split decision verdict, it was Barber whose hand was raised in victory as Maverick suffered her first defeat as a UFC fighter.
Elsewhere, there was a big come-from-behind victory for featherweight ironman Darren Elkins, who endured a tricky start against submission specialist Darrick Minner before turning the tables and finishing his man via second-round ground and pound.
And the main card started with a superb matchup, as Adrian Yanez claimed a second-round TKO finish of his good-natured rival Randy Costa in an exciting 135-pound bout.
Costa started the stronger, but Yanez found his rhythm and, after dropping Costa to his knees with a solid uppercut, finished him with a barrage of strikes that forced the stoppage at the 2:11 mark of Round 2.
UFC Vegas 32: Main Card Results
- T.J. Dillashaw def. Cory Sandhagen via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
- Raulian Paiva def. Kyler Phillips via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
- Darren Elkins def. Darrick Minner via TKO (punches) – 3:48, Round 2
- Maycee Barber def. Miranda Maverick via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Adrian Yanez def. Randy Costa via TKO (punches) – 2:11, Round 2
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