Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Cory Sandhagen vs. TJ DillashawESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)
Last week, former champion Meisha Tate returned from nearly a five-year layoff, making a splash with a dominant performance that immediately places her in the title picture for her division. This week, former champion TJ Dillashaw will attempt to perform the same feat in his first fight in over two and half years. The winner is likely on deck to face the winner of Aljamain Sterling-Petr Yan, once their title matchup gets a final resolution.
Tate converted as a worthy favorite, but Dillashaw will enter the cage as a clear underdog, despite coming off three consecutive title appearances, in which he went 2-1. His opponent, Cory Sandhagen, is bigger, younger and wrecked a former champion in his last appearance. Where does the value lie?
Prelims start at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+, and the main card begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+.
Odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.
Bantamweight main event: Cory Sandhagen (-195) vs. TJ Dillashaw (+165)
Tale Of The Tape
|CORY SANDHAGEN||TJ DILLASHAW|
|Last fight weight class||Bantamweight||Flyweight|
|Stand-up striking offense|
|Total knockdown ratio (scored:received)||4:0||9:3|
|Distance knockdown rate||6.7%||3.1%|
|Head jab accuracy||26%||28%|
|Head power accuracy||41%||27%|
|Total stand-up strike ratio||1.2||1.3|
|Total head strike defense||70%||73%|
|Distance knockdown defense ("Chin")||100%||99%|
|Wrestling and grappling|
|TD attempts per min standing/clinch||0.19||0.36|
|Advances per takedown/top control||0.8||1.3|
|Opponent takedown attempts||13||36|
|Share of total ground time in control||69%||96%|
|Submission attempts per trip to ground||0.15||0.46|
The ground game is a different story. Dillashaw has the pedigree of an NCAA D1 wrestler, even if he doesn't always need that weapon. Still, he's far more likely to be the one initiating a ground fight, and one of Sandhagen's deficiencies is a below average takedown defense. Any extended periods of ground control could be enough to sway a round for Dillashaw, and he's also capable of capitalizing on any submission openings that might present themselves.
Ultimately, I see this matchup as being more of a coin flip of potential outcomes. Sandhagen gets a slight edge overall, but if I can get a decent return on the live 'dog, that's where there's a little value.
E+ recommends: Money-line lean on Dillashaw, who will likely return more than +150.
Best bets elsewhere on the cardA main card featherweight matchup is sure to see some wrestling. Darrick Minner (-160) and Darren Elkins (+135) both like to initiate contact early and often, and both have used ground control to their advantage. While Minner's stat line looks a little better, Elkins has a long resume against the who's who of the division and certainly earned his stripes against consistently better competition. That suggests the submission defense of Elkins is stout, so if Minner can't finish on the mat, he'll have to compete against a notoriously endless gas tank.
If it stays standing, Minner has clear statistical advantages. However, we must again account for the far stronger strength of schedule that Elkins has endured, survived and, in many cases, overcome.
It makes for a tough call. The lean is definitely with Minner, but his price has risen since opening and could be unplayable given the game veteran he's facing.
E+ recommends: Over 2.5 rounds or fight goes the distance. Elkins is a live 'dog for an upset split decision but is only worth a small stab if his price returns more than +150.
For more upset potential, look at the co-main event featuring two top-10 women's bantamweights. Aspen Ladd (-190) has been a crushing finisher, but she'll be taking on a much larger and durable opponent in Macy Chiasson (+160), who still seems to be getting better.
Chiasson's stats line up fairly even with those of Ladd, with a big difference in the ratio of striking output while standing. While Ladd has been outworked in the past, Chiasson has put on an aggressive pace that has opponents playing defense and therefore getting behind on the cards. Ladd's more accurate counter-striking is a threat, but if Chiasson's chin withstands it, she could actually win some of the stand-up time.
The ground game is similarly back and forth, but Chiasson's size could give her an edge there. Overall, it's a very close matchup on paper, meaning there's once again value on the underdog return.
E+ recommends: Money-line lean on Chiasson at plus money.