T.J. Dillashaw says he will be getting a chance to reclaim his bantamweight title when he returns from suspension.
In January of 2019, Dillashaw dropped down to flyweight and was quickly knocked out by Henry Cejudo. Following the loss, it was revealed the bantamweight champ tested positive for EPO and was suspended for two years. He’s eligible to return in January of 2021 and says a title fight or a top-five opponent will be his return scrap.
“I was told I would get that title fight when I came back, but that doesn’t mean anything,” Dillashaw told MMA Junkie. “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.”
During his suspension, T.J. Dillashaw used the time off to have surgery on both his shoulders. He has also recovered all his injuries so the time off was a bit of a blessing.
“At first it was super tough,” Dillashaw said. “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.
“I work my ass off and this has actually been – I wouldn’t choose to do this – but one of the best breaks I’ve had ever. I’ve got to focus on other parts of my life. I did something I highly regret and I’ve owned up to it and paid the price for it. I hate to say it’s a blessing in disguise, because I would never choose to do it again, but it is.”
In the end, Dillashaw is confident he has what it takes to reclaim his belt and be a three-time UFC bantamweight champion,
“Now I guess I get the opportunity to be a three-time champion, which is absurd,” Dillashaw said. “I don’t feel like I should’ve lost it the first time, I get to recapture it all over again. I get to go through this process a (expletive) third time.”
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime