Cory Sandhagen considers himself one of the most ultra-competitive fighters on the entire UFC roster, so he understands the willingness to do anything to win.
That said, he never wants to break the rules but he knows that isn’t necessarily the case for everyone, including his opponents from the past and the future.
A perfect example is his next fight against former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who returns to action for the first time in more than two years after a long suspension after testing positive for erythropoietin. recombinant human – better known as EPO – after losing back in 2019. While Dillashaw admitted his wrongdoing, that doesn’t rule out that he tried to take a shortcut by using performance-enhancing drugs.
More recently, rumors had circulated that Dillashaw had sent spies to Sandhagen’s camp to watch him as he prepared for their next fight. One of Sandhagen’s teammates Justin Wetzell spoke to MMA reporter James Lynch in May about some fighters who apparently walked into the gym and started recording a workout involving the leaderboard bantamweight No.3 MMA Fighting World.
Wetzell added that fighters have reportedly started to “brag” about the incident on social media, but this appeared to be the only known time this alleged spying took place.
“Honestly, I’m not sure just because that would be a lot of speculation on my part to be honest,” Sandhagen told MMA Fighting in response to the spy rumors. “I think a few guys who came to train at Duane [Ludwig’s] gym, just released and I don’t think Duane has maybe a ton of sparring sessions. Sometimes Duane will send some of his guys to the squad to train with us, which in any other scenario is a 100% thing to do.
“But just in this scenario we just found out they were from Duane and then maybe one of them made a weird social media post, that’s what one of my teammates said to me, it was like alluding to the idea that he was there watching me instead of training me, which like I said, I’m just doing all kinds of speculation. not spend a lot of energy speculating on things.
While it might seem like Sandhagen’s natural reaction would be anger at Dillashaw or his team if someone was actually sent to his gym to specifically spy on his workouts, it actually couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, thanks to his own desire to win at all costs, Sandhagen can almost understand why a person goes to such lengths to gain a competitive advantage even though it is something he would never do.
“To be honest with you, honestly, I wouldn’t even really mind,” Sandhagen said candidly. “It’s like it’s okay for you to do whatever you can to win, even if it’s a little unethical in some people’s words. But it is the art of war and the combat is real. You want to do everything you can to avoid being beaten and to beat the other person. I don’t hate guys for having that in them.
“Having a will to win at the limit of ethics is something I can understand. It’s not something I would endorse, but I understand how well we do things and how dangerous this sport is. This is something that I can understand. So I’m not really too mad at that stuff.
As for Dillashaw’s return to action after being absent for more than two years following a UFC anti-doping policy violation, Sandhagen doesn’t spend every waking moment wondering if his next opponent is cheating or not.
Instead of focusing on Dillashaw’s past drug use, Sandhagen prefers to think about all the ways he could take advantage of the situation when they face off on Saturday night at UFC Vegas 32.
“You kind of have to live in two different worlds when you fight,” Sandhagen explained. “You have to live in the real world, but you also have to live in a very hyper-competitive world where you don’t want to give any excuse to have an advantage in a fight. In the real world, I have a lot of advantages. I have a lot of advantages in the fight, especially with him just being laid off for two and a half years and also hopefully being tested a bit more so that he’s not sure. the type of enhancement stuff it was on before.
“I understand he’s a little older now. He hasn’t fought for a long time. These are all things to consider, but on the other hand, I have to live in a world where I understand that TJ is another adversary that is in front of me no matter what advantages I have or not, which you wins a fight takes place and beats a guy and has more will to win than the other person. I understand. There’s a lot of arguments in my favor, but there’s nothing that wins fights other than going out and playing and having the will to win and beat the guy. This is the world I need to live in.
Prior to his move to California, Dillashaw actually trained primarily in Colorado, where he counted Sandhagen among his many teammates and training partners.
It has been a few years since they trained together regularly, but Sandhagen certainly remembers those sessions spent alongside Dillashaw which is just more knowledge for him ahead of their main fight this weekend.
While this also means that Dillashaw has his own ideas about clashes with a former training partner, Sandhagen promises that he has learned a lot since those days and that he also always has a few surprises in store.
Considering his last two fights ended in spectacular knockouts against Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar, Sandhagen is more than ready to add Dillashaw to his climax reel as well.
“There is always some tricks up the sleeve,” said Sandhagen. “I’m one of the guys who’s at the gym all the time. I know there are a lot of fighters out there who make their camps and then relax between fights. It is not me. I really like this sport. I really enjoy learning a lot about this sport. I really enjoy learning new techniques. There are definitely a lot of things that I couldn’t even show in Frankie’s fight because it happened so fast.
“If the fight goes on for a while you will see a lot of new things from me and I was honestly excited to show them in Frankie’s fight, but also happy with how it turned out. I’m really proud of my work ethic and my ability to get really good between fights. “