Speaking with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Sandhagen says regardless of Dillashaw’s demeanor toward him, he is mentally prepared for any form of his opponent.
“If TJ wants to be hostile, then that will be the scenario. If he doesn’t want to be hostile, then that will also be the scenario,” Sandhagen said to Okamoto. “I’m not the type of guy who’s gonna really go out of my way to try to intimidate people. I think that’s not something that is helpful for me. But I will go into fight week knowing that the host hotel, the apex, all of this stuff is a battleground and that’s how I treat it.”
As previously mentioned, Dillashaw and Sandhagen used to train with one another. In the past, Dillashaw even said that he likes Sandhagen.
But Sandhagen will not let his guard down, regardless of how Dillashaw behaves, or has behaved toward him.
“If he is very friendly, okay. That’s probably a manipulative tool, in my opinion, where I’ve seen guys do that in the past with like ‘Let me be really friendly to this guy,’” Sandhagen said. “But at the end of the day, really, what we’re doing is on Saturday night, the two of us are going to try to hurt each other as badly as possible. No one goes in there being like ‘Oh let me just, you know 30-27 ‘em.’”
This main event will be Dillashaw’s first fight back since he was stripped of his bantamweight title and suspended for the use of EPO.
Sandhagen said that while it does not bother him that Dillashaw has to live with his past indiscretions, he does have a negative feeling toward the idea of illegally gaining a competitive advantage.
“It is a little bit gross, in my opinion to put yourself in an illegal advantage in a one-on-one combat scenario in something that you really love,” Sandhagen said. So it’s just, I mean it’s gross. If there’s a word for it, it’s kind of just gross. But like I said, TJ lives with TJ’s decisions and he has to do that, not me.
“Honestly, I don’t really need any more motivation to hate someone or want to beat someone up other than the fact that TJ is trying to take my dream away from me.”
While Sandhagen’s fight style alone is enough to draw fans to their television screens when he fights, his mentality is also quite fascinating.