Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw will be eligible to compete inside the Octagon next month as his two-year suspension is coming to a finish. In January 2019, Dillashaw, who was the reigning bantamweight champion at the time, dropped down to fight then-flyweight champ Henry Cejudo.
Dillashaw lost the bout by first-round TKO and subsequently failed a drug test for Erythropoietin (EPO), a performance-enhancing drug. He relinquished his bantamweight belt before he was hit with a two-year suspension for taking a banned substance. Dillashaw’s suspension ends on January 18, 2021.
Dillashaw spoke with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto on Wednesday about using EPO. Okamoto asked the former champion a hypothetical question: if Dillashaw didn’t get caught using EPO, would he have justified taking it.
“With the way my brain works—I just gave you an example of how me dealing with the last two years and what I’ve had to do to trick myself into being positive about it no matter what—you kind of have to trick yourself into doing it,” Dillashaw said (h/t BJPenn.com). “I probably would have done the same thing.
“At first I would have been guilty about it, but I was to the point where I probably should have just not taken the fight to be honest,” Dillashaw said. “Actually I know I shouldn’t have taken the fight—but I probably would have done the same. I’m going to be honest with you, just like I’ve been with everything. I probably would have done the same. I probably would have been like ‘ah, I had to do it, it was something my body wasn’t letting me do, I wasn’t able to make the weight.”
“So yes, I did take something I wasn’t supposed to, and if I went and saw a doctor, he would have prescribed it to me, but that doesn’t give me an excuse to take it. I’m a professional athlete, I know I wasn’t allowed to take it, but I would have made that excuse to myself. I would have been able to justify it, how f***** up that is.”
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Dillashaw’s Rival, Former Champ Cody Garbrandt, Slammed Him in the Comment Section of Okamoto’s Post
One of Dillashaw’s biggest storylines in the UFC is his feud with Sacramento, California’s Team Alpha Male, his former team. Dillashaw used to train at the world-class gym with the likes of former UFC bantamweight champions Urijah Faber and Cody Garbrandt.
Dillashaw left the gym to train with Duane Ludwig in what was a very public feud. Due to their heated rivalry, Dillashaw and Garbrandt coached opposites of each other on The Ultimate Fighter 25 in 2017. They also fought twice, with Dillashaw taking Garbrandt’s bantamweight title at UFC 217 via second-round KO and then defending it against “No Love” at UFC 227 via second-round TKO.
When Dillashaw failed the drug test after fighting Cejudo, No Love told the media multiple times that he knew about his rival taking EPO. And in the comment section of Okamoto’s Instagram post with Dillashaw, Garbrandt made his point clear.
“Lol this dudes been on it way longer than just 2019,” Garbrandt wrote. “He can’t fight without the s***…”
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Dillashaw Won the UFC Bantamweight Title Twice, Defended it 3 Times
Dillashaw is one of the most successful bantamweight fighters in UFC history. He earned the title at UFC 173 when he defeated Renan Barao as a massive underdog. Dillashaw defended the belt twice, defeating Joe Soto and Barao in a rematch, before losing the belt to Dominick Cruz.
He won the bantamweight strap again when he finished Garbrandt, and defended it against No Love in the rematch before moving down to flyweight to challenge Cejudo. He has a professional MMA record of 16-4 with eight wins via KO/TKO and three by submission.
During his interview with Okamoto, Dillashaw said he is hoping to fight in March 2021 and is eyeing a bantamweight title shot.