T.J. Dillashaw thinks Cory Sandhagen will be UFC champ if he tops Umar Nurmagomedov

T.J. Dillashaw thinks Cory Sandhagen could be UFC champion right now.

In order to get that opportunity, Sandhagen (17-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) has to get past Umar Nurmagomedov (17-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in the UFC on ABC 7 main event, which takes place Aug. 3 at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

Former champion Dillashaw’s last octagon win came over Sandhagen when he edged him out in a back-and-forth battle in July 2021. While Dillashaw sees Sandhagen beating UFC bantamweight champion Sean O'Malley, he thinks Nurmagomedov is a more stern test for him.

“It is a tough fight,” Dillashaw said on the “JAXXON PODCAST.” “I think Sandhagen should be champion right now. He’d beat O’Malley all day. I think that’s the toughest fight for O’Malley in the weight class. (If) Sandhagen gets through this fight, he’ll be world champion.

“This is a tough one for him to get through, though. I don’t like this fight for him. I hope that he gets through it. The guy he’s fighting is a dog. He’s a good wrestler – he can hold him down.”

Despite being the far more experienced fighter, Sandhagen opened up as a slight underdog against Nurmagomedov.

“It is very dangerous for both of them because Cory’s next up for a title fight (if) he wins this one,” Dillashaw said. “Umar’s trying to get to the top, and (now Sandhagen) needs to go back down a couple steps (for this fight). So I think it’s dangerous for both of them, but that’s what makes it a great f*cking fight.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Abu Dhabi.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie