Suspended Dillashaw Ready For Title Shot Upon Return
Out of the spotlight serving a two-year suspension, T.J. Dillashaw is ready to reclaim the title he never lost.
The former UFC Bantamweight Champion is preparing for a title shot right when he comes back from a USADA-sanctioned suspension dating back to January 2019. Speaking to MMA Junkie, Dillashaw (16-4) discussed the idea of him getting a shot at Henry Cejudo, the current UFC Bantamweight Champion. An alternative would be for him to face a contender to earn the title shot.
“I was told I would get that title fight when I came back, but that doesn’t mean anything,” Dillashaw said. “I made a mistake – I don’t own rights to anything. But if it was my choice, it would be title fight, if not top-five to prove I should get that title fight. I think that makes sense.
“I’m hoping they just throw me to the dogs. If I can’t get that title fight, I want someone in the top five so that I can get my title fight. I’m not here to play around. I want my belt back. It’s still mine. I’ll be ready.”
Around the time after a TKO loss to Cejudo for the UFC Flyweight Title at UFC on ESPN+ 1 in Brooklyn, Dillashaw was suspended two years after testing positive for the performance enhancer EPO. Dillashaw admitted that he took an anemia medication called Procrit, which had large traces of EPO. There were reports of his tests coming back with EPO use long before 2019, including his 2017/2018 bouts against Cody Garbrandt. The suspension also includes a sentence by the New York Athletic Commission.
Since the March discovery, Dillashaw relinquished the Bantamweight Title and has gone through a tough transition. He lost sponsors, including Monster Energy, as well as his momentum. He also underwent surgery thanks to the time away. Not competing, while also having people talk about him, really got to Dillashaw.
“At first it was super tough,” Dillashaw went on to say. “Then I went through two shoulder surgeries back-to-back, so that kind of added to it. Down in the dumps. On the top of the world, then down as far to the bottom as you can get. It was tough. I’m not going to lie. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. At first it was real, real tough. But I’ve always been mentally strong.”
Dillashaw now wants to hold Bantamweight gold for a third time. Cejudo is set to face Jose Aldo at UFC 250, while a number of bantamweight contenders are looking to get a shot. Petr Yan-Marlon Moraes and a potential Aljamain Sterling-Corey Sandhagen bout could determine the next few months of fights for the title. Those fighters might not be willing to give up their spots to someone like Dillashaw, just as they were upset by Aldo getting a shot.
Dillashaw is looking to move past it all and go on to do bigger things with his life.
“It’s hard to hold grudges, because I did it,” Dillashaw stated. “I made the mistake. I dirtied my name myself. It’s not on anybody else. I gave them fuel. It hurts, but that’s part of the payment – part of the payment for how I dirtied my name up. I’ve got to live with it now. Trying to hold onto those grudges, that’s like holding onto the past. I’ve already moved on. I’m ready to push for that next goal and getting my belt back.”