Post-Suspension T.J. Dillashaw Decisions Cory Sandhagen in UFC on ESPN 27 Headliner

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returned from more than a two-year absence to reclaim
his spot as one of the
Ultimate Fighting Championship
’s premier bantamweights.

In his first appearance since completing a United States
Anti-Doping Agency suspension, Dillashaw scratched and clawed his
way to a split decision over former Elevation Fight Team stablemate
in the
UFC on ESPN 27
main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las
Vegas. All three judges scored it 48-47: Sal D’Amato and Junichiro
Kamijo for Dillashaw, Derek Cleary for Sandhagen.

Pace and pressure served as Dillashaw’s avenues to victory. He
routinely pushed Sandhagen (14-3, 7-2 UFC) into the fence and
worked from the rear waistlock position, burying knees into the
back of his legs. Dillashaw (17-4, 13-4 UFC) did not escape
unscathed. Sandhagen was the superior fighter in space and opened a
cut with a clubbing right hand in the second round. Blood seeped
from the diagonal wound, which was located near the intersection of
Dillashaw’s nose and right eye. However, Sandhagen failed to fully
capitalize. Too often he wandered into the two-time champion’s
clutches, surrendering momentum and allowing valuable time to be
milked from the clock. They entered the fifth round with the
outcome still in doubt, though neither man managed to separate
himself from the other.

Replacement Paiva Downs Phillips

Team Alpha Male
’s Raulian
rode timely takedowns, a stout chin and powerful punching
combinations to a majority decision over
prospect Kyler
in the three-round bantamweight co-main event. Judges
and Chris Lee saw it 29-28 for Paiva, while Sal D’Amato
scored it a 28-28 draw.

Phillips (9-2, 3-1 UFC) dominated much of the first round, where he
knocked down the Brazilian, stepped into thudding right hands and
scrambled into top position on more than one occasion. A
short-notice replacement for the injured Raphael
, Paiva (21-3, 3-2 UFC) appeared to be teetering on the
brink near the end of the round, but his ability to survive paid
massive dividends. He started to turn the tide in his favor in the
middle stanza, as he dove on an attempted leg lock and later
touched off a wild exchange with a right hand of his own. Phillips’
pace slowed down the stretch. Paiva walked through a number of
right hands in the third round, connected in multi-punch bursts and
mixed in a takedown for good measure.

The loss halted Phillips’ four-fight winning streak.

Indomitable Elkins Sinks Minner

disposed of
Glory MMA
representative Darrick
with punches in the second round of their featherweight
showcase. Bloody and battered yet again, the resolute Elkins (26-9,
16-8 UFC) forced the stoppage 3:48 into Round 2.

Minner (26-11, 2-2 UFC) won a majority of the scrambles, piled up
points with ground-and-pound and made passes at various
submissions, from guillotine chokes and a topside triangle to an
armbar. Nothing worked, and all the effort he exerted pushed his
gas tank beyond its bounds. Elkins escaped a guillotine in the
second round, twice moved to a topside crucifix, chipped away with
punches and eventually advanced to the back. From there, a sustained barrage of punches on the exhausted
Minner slammed the door shut

Elkins, 37, has followed a career-worst four-fight losing streak
with back-to-back wins.

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Barber Rebounds, Edges Maverick

Team Alpha Male
’s Maycee
rebounded from back-to-back losses to Roxanne
and Alexa
with a contentious split decision over Miranda
in a three-round women’s flyweight feature. All three
cageside judges scored it 29-28: Sal D’Amato and Dave Hagen for
Barber (9-2, 4-2 UFC), Chris Lee for Maverick.

Maverick (9-3, 2-1 UFC) controlled the center of the cage through
two rounds and backed up the
Dana White’s Contender Series
graduate with an active kicking
game. She did her best work in Round 2, where she unleashed her jab
with more regularity, scrambled to Barber’s back and applied her
ground-and-pound in the waning moments. Maverick slowed down
noticeably in the third, conceded a takedown, ate a beautiful
spinning elbow from her 23-year-old counterpart and left her fate
in the hands of the judges.

The setback was Maverick’s first since Feb. 15, 2019 and ended her
run of consecutive victories at five.

Resilient Yanez Stops Costa

put away Lauzon
export Randy Costa
with punches in the second round of a wild back-and-forth
bantamweight showcase. Yanez (14-3, 3-0 UFC) brought it to a close
2:11 into Round 2, posting his seventh consecutive victory.

Costa (6-2, 2-2 UFC) raced out to a strong start, as he battered
Metro Fight Club
rep with a ferocious jab, head kicks and crisp
punching combinations. It was not enough to get the job done. Yanez
picked up his pace in the middle stanza, cut loose with a left hook
to the body and drove his opponent to his knees with a right
uppercut. He followed with a volley of punches on the
kneeling Costa
, forcing referee Chris Tognoni to intervene.

The defeat snapped Costa’s two-fight winning streak.

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Post-Suspension T.J. Dillashaw Decisions Cory Sandhagen in UFC on ESPN 27 Headliner

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