If you’ve watched MMA long enough you’ve probably learned that fighters have a tendency to compete despite their best interests. This is often seen with athletes going into fights, and staying in fights, despite not being completely healthy.
We often see fighters, who know their chances of winning are being diminished because of an injury suffered in the cage, tough it out for a chance to swing for the fences and get that win. They do this despite the fact an injury makes it more likely they could lose and/or suffer greater damage. Obviously, the UFC’s show/win pay-structure has a lot to do with this.
Recently former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw spoke to Submission Radio about the fibs he told during his most recent fight—versus Cory Sandhagen—in order to make sure he could hang in there and win.
In round two of the five round contest Dillashaw sustained a brutal cut over his right eye, which lead to a lot of bleeding, bruising and swelling. Dillashaw told Submission Radio that he didn’t tell officials the truth when the injury was assessed during the fight.
“I guess camp kinda prepared me to be able to deal with injuries in the fight, I guess,” he said (ht MMA News). “Because I had to kinda bury my injuries down deep during fight camp, and I had to definitely do it during the fight. And then let alone getting open in the second round, my eye, having to lie to the ref and tell him I can see…I just didn’t want the fight to get stopped.”
“The doctor came in, I was like, ‘Yeah, man, I got it. Don’t worry. I can see,’” continued Dillashaw. “And at the time, I couldn’t, so walking out I was sure to take his wipey and I tried to wipe my eye even more and they told me I wasn’t able to do that…so just kinda had to tough it out, really, to be honest.”
The win over Sandhagen vaulted Dillashaw to second spot in the UFC bantamweight rankings, giving him prime position to challenge the winner of Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan 2 for the 135 lbs title.
Dillashaw first won that belt with a shock short notice win over Renan Barao at UFC 173 in 2014. He defended the title twice before dropping it in a razor thin decision loss to Dominick Cruz in 2016. Dillashaw reclaimed the title with a KO win over former teammate Cody Garbrandt in 2017. The title was stripped from Dillashaw when he tested positive for EPO in 2019.