Former UFC bantamweight champion, T.J. Dillashaw may still be suspended from competition until January 2021 – but according to the Bang Muay Thai trainee, he’s been informed by the UFC that upon his return to the Octagon, he will receive a title opportunity.
The 34-year-old last competed at UFC Fight Night Brooklyn in January of last year, in an unsuccessful attempt to pry the flyweight title from then champion, Henry Cejudo. In a post-fight drug test, Dillashaw provided a sample which tested positive for the banned substance, EPO (Recombinant Human Erythropoietin), resulting in a two-year retroactive suspension from both the New York State Athletic Commission, and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Dillashaw, a two-time 135-pound champion, recently revealed in an interview with MMA Junkie, how he had been informed by the organisation that he would be instated into a title match when he returns to the Octagon – something he’s not exactly sure will happen, however.
“I was told I’d get a 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 a 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. Now I guess I get the opportunity to be a three-time champion, which is absurd. I don’t feel like I should’ve lost it the first time [against Dominick Cruz]. I get to recapture it all over again. I get to go through this process a f**king third time.“
After Dillashaw revealed USADA had flagged his test for “adverse findings“, he voluntarily vacated the bantamweight championship – which was later won by the aforementioned Cejudo, who rallied to knock out Marlon Moraes. With his second reign ending in murky circumstances, Dillashaw has undone a significant amount of work toward his own personal legacy. The former Team Alpha MMA trainee claimed the title for a second time via a knockout of arch-rival, Cody Garbrandt, before again stopping the Ohio native with strikes in a rematch.
The 34-year-old TUF alumni managed a shocking knockout of the then pound-for-pound summit chaser, Renan Barão – before similarly to Garbrandt, winning in a rematch. Dillashaw defended against Joe Soto in between. In his third professional defeat, Dillashaw dropped a hugely close split decision to the returning, Dominick Cruz, losing the bantamweight crown.