Dillashaw made his return to competition in July 2021 when he edged Cory Sandhagen on the scorecards via split decision. It was his first bout since serving a two-year suspension for testing positive for EPO, a performance-enhancing drug. The failed drug test resulted in Dillashaw’s 135-pound belt being stripped from him.
After reigning bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling defended his belt against Petr Yan at UFC 273 last month, the “Funk Master” called out Dillashaw.
Since then, Sterling has shown interest in competing against other combatants, however with the No. 2 ranking by his name, Dillashaw is a likely candidate to battle Sterling next. Further, Dillashaw has said on several occasions that he wants a title fight.
Cruz Questioned Why Dillashaw Is Deserving of the Next Crack at Sterling
Well, Dillashaw’s title claim was questioned by Cruz. “The Dominator” was featured on Wednesday’s episode of Ariel Helwani’s “MMA Hour,” and during his interview, he spoke about his former opponent.
“He was suspended for cheating, so to get a shot after one win, OK, cool,” Cruz said via MMA Fighting. “Sounds like a hook-up to me. He got two years off, didn’t really lose any money and then just gets right back up in [the title picture]. It’s not like he had an easy fight; [Cory] Sandhagen’s no joke. But still, one fight? Pedro Munhoz and all these other people that are in the division that have just been competing, competing, competing, it’s crazy.
“But I kind of get it, because when I was laid off for so long with my knee injuries, I came back, fought [Takeya] Mizugaki, blew my knee out again, and came back and got a title shot. But I hadn’t lost, and I hadn’t gotten in trouble for anything – I just blew my knees out. So, it’s a little different, and I got my shot that way.
Cruz Said That Storylines Are More Important to the UFC Than ‘Who Deserves What’ In Terms of Ticket Sales
Cruz understands that there is a rich storyline with Dillashaw trying to recapture the belt he never lost, especially while being subjected to random drug testing. And according to The Dominator, the UFC prefers an engaging storyline over “who deserves what.”
“But it’s showing me that what is dominant in each division is ticket sales and storyline, and the storyline of T.J. Dillashaw, the fact that he cheated, isn’t really in that. If anything, it just makes people dislike him more, which will make people tune in. So I think that the storyline is more important for the UFC than anything else to sell tickets than who deserves what.
“I’ve said it a million times – nobody really deserves anything in this sport. You get everything you earn. He fought Cory Sandhagen. He earned that. But that’s pretty much my layout. I think that there’s a lot of good fights you can make. To make that one? I guess so. I guess, but there’s plenty of other fights you can make that you could give that opportunity to besides him. But obviously, the storyline sells, so they’re going with it.”