Tonight’s UFC Vegas 32 event sees the long-awaited return of former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw to the Octagon. Dillashaw has been absent from competition for just over two-and-a-half years since he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Cory Sandhagen is the man in waiting for Dillashaw and, following decisive KO victories over Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar in his last two outings, he certainly won’t be a pushover.
With plenty more action than that on the card, get ready for a great night of MMA and some potential winnings at online sportsbooks by delving into our preview, odds, and predictions.
UFC Vegas 32: Dillashaw vs. Sandhagen: T.J. Dillashaw vs. Cory Sandhagen
This fight has all the makings of an instant classic. Besides a tough defeat to Aljamain Sterling a year ago, Sandhagen (14-2) has been on an absolute tear in the bantamweight division. He’s developed a striking style all of his own, jabbing like a boxer but exploding with huge knees and elbows at opportune moments during the stand-up exchanges. A well-rounded fighter, Sandhagen is useful on the mat, too, notching two submission victories since his arrival in the UFC.
Across the cage from Sandhagen, T.J. Dillashaw (17-4) will be aiming to get back to top form ASAP and reclaim the title he had stripped following that infamous failed test for PED’s. Dillashaw has a wrestling base but is an accurate, technical striker, too. Prior to the ban, he’d won four straight as bantamweight champion (Dillashaw did lose to Henry Cejudo in his last outing, but that was at flyweight).
Prediction: the oddsmakers have made Sandhagen the betting favorite in tonight’s bout for a reason. It’s not easy to step back into the Octagon after two-and-a-half years away and Dillashaw better hope to rediscover his A-game quickly.
Dillashaw does have the element of surprise on his side – who knows what he’s been working on during his time away; he could be a totally different prospect to what we’re used to seeing. But, we think Sandhagen’s activity and recent form, including KOs of some big names, should get him over the line. Sandhagen via KO in round 3.
DraftKings Odds: Dillashaw +170: -; Sandhagen: -200
UFC Vegas 32: Dillashaw vs. Sandhagen: Kyler Phillips vs. Raulian Paiva
Following a decision win vs. Yadong Song earlier this year, Kyler Phillips (9-1) is now in the midst of a four-fight winning streak. So, the well-rounded American heads into this bout high on form and confidence. “The “Matrix” boasts striking accuracy of 46%, landing 5.32 significant strikes and absorbing just 3.04 per minute. He’s a hard man to outwork and an even harder man to outpunch.
Raulian Paiva (20-3) is himself looking for his third win in quick succession. The last time we saw him in the Octagon was when he bested Zhalgas Zhumagulov by U-DEC back in July 2020.
Paiva likes to strike at a distance but does tend to get himself involved in wars, eating just about as many strikes as he lands on average and oftentimes seeing his fights go the distance – Paiva has earned a W via the scorecards in three of his five bouts in the UFC.
Prediction: this is likely to be a close fight, but we think Phillips probably possesses a touch more power in his fists and is the more evasive of the two combatants. By that logic alone, we’re going for the favorite – Philips by TKO in Round 2.
DraftKings Odds: Phillips: -290; Paiva: +230
UFC Vegas 32: Dillashaw vs. Sandhagen: Darren Elkins vs. Darrick Minner
The last time we saw Darren Elkins (25-9) he ragdolled and choked out Luiz Eduardo Garagorri to put a halt to a four-fight losing streak that began with a tough U-DEC loss to the current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
Darrick Minner (26-11) is a real problem for the resurgent Elkins though: his jiu-jitsu is absolutely next-level, as evidenced by 22 submission victories in his 26 wins.
Prediction: This is likely to come down to Elkins’ wrestling vs. Minner’s jiu-jitsu and whichever fighter has more in the tank – a likely war of attrition. As the underdog in a close fight, we’re vouching for Elkins’ to have slightly better cardio and to grind out another U-DEC W. But, honestly, this one is anyone’s guess – steer totally clear if you don’t like risking your capital.
DraftKings Odds: Elkins: +130; Minner: -155
UFC Vegas 32: Dillashaw vs. Sandhagen: Miranda Maverick vs. Maycee Barber
Miranda Maverick (9-2) sure did look like a high-level striker in her UFC debut vs. Liana Jojua, forcing the doctor’s stoppage after a savage shot split Jojua’s nose. A U-DEC win over Gillian Robertson earlier this year further cemented her as a top prospect in the women’s flyweight division.
The formerly highly-touted Maycee Barber (8-2) is at a very different stage in her development. She was hyped to high-heavens when she first debuted in the UFC. But, after being out-grappled in a tough defeat to Roxanne Modafferi, Barber went on to suffer a defeat to Alexa Grasso and now needs a big performance to end the slump. There’s no doubting Barber’s talent with the stand-up – she really did look every inch a championship contender during the four-fight KO win-streak that came before her recent downturn in form. At just 23 years of age, Barber has plenty of time to fulfill her potential, too.
Prediction: both these ladies are highly aggressive strikers, meaning this bout has genuine fight-of-the-night credentials. Another tough one to call, but we think that Barber’s stint at Team Alpha Male and the likely improvement in her grappling that accompanies that might just be enough… plus we like those underdog odds!
Barber by TKO in Round 2.
DraftKings Odds: Maverick: -150; Barber: +130
UFC Vegas 32: Dillashaw vs. Sandhagen: Adrian Yanez (-230) vs. Randy Costa (+190)
The bantamweight opener on Saturday’s main card between Adrian Yanez and Randy Costa might not last long – so, if you’re in Vegas tonight, get to your seats early.
Yanez has won each of his past three fights courtesy of knockouts, including two first-round stoppages in the UFC and one fighting on Dana White’s Contender Series. In fact, 10 of Yanez’s 16 fights have ended by KO – the man likes to knock people out; simple as that.
Yanez’s opponent Randy Costa also holds a recent 41-second KO/TKO vs. Journey Newson last time he fought some 10 months ago – a vicious kick to the head got the job done on that occasion. Plus, in his encounter vs. Boston Salmon in the fight prior, you guessed it: another first-round finish; this time via punches.
Prediction: someone is getting knocked out. Honestly, we’re not sure who but we’re going to trust in the oddsmakers and pick Yaanez in the first.
DraftKings Odds: Yanez: -225; Costa: +185