After serving a two-year suspension for a failed PED test, former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw returns this weekend and will take on Cory Sandhagen in a very intriguing and important fight at the top of the division. Back in 2019 as he was preparing to attempt to become a two-weight champion and drop down from bantamweight to flyweight and challenge Henry Cejudo for the title, Dillashaw tested positive for EPO which resulted in a two-year ban.
Now that his suspension is over and he’s returning to action, TJ Dillashaw is opening up about his decision to take the banned substance, and how he thought it would help him as he prepared to drop down to 125 pounds and cement his legacy. On Wednesday, Dillashaw was a guest on ‘Unlocking The Cage’ with Jimmy Smith on Sirius XM, and opened up in great detail about everything surrounding his failed test, saying he was a shell of himself preparing to fight Cejudo.
🔊"I thought I'd be able to get away with it, man."@TJDillashaw spoke candidly after @jimmysmithmma asked him about his motivation to take EPO & the 'hoping it'll work out' mindset about passing drug testing before his fight with Henry Cejudo #UFCVegas32 pic.twitter.com/0KAszXD2lR
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) July 21, 2021
“I was a shell of myself, you know what I mean? I was in talks to being the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, I’m going to drop down to 125 get another belt, I was trying to cement my future, I’m trying to get paid, I’m trying to do all these great f***ing things. Then you get into a weight cut and I thought it was doable, I thought ‘f**k, I can do this.’ and now when I look at pictures of myself from then, I look f***ing disgusting. I looked like a crackhead, I looked really, really bad.”
“In the moment I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was waking up in the morning, freezing cold, no energy, I was full blown amenic. When you wake up a shell of yourself and you’re supposed to be the baddest man on the planet, it’s a mental of ‘What am I going to do?'”
As he was going through the weight cut and noticing the effect of it, Dillashaw, who knew how the UFC and USADA were doing drug testing, made a decision that he said he thought he could get away with.
“I had this opportunity in front of myself to set myself up forever. I’ve been in this game, I know how they [UFC/USADA] were doing it, they’re very, very strict. I took a chance. They came and tested me when I was five or six weeks out, I don’t remember exactly the time. I was like ‘F**k man, most likely they’re not going to test me until closer the fight, I’ll be good.’ I’m a very smart guy when it comes to nutrion, I went to school for science, I was like ‘Man, I could probably get by with this’ that was my hope. It was either that or pull out of the fight and in hindsight I should’ve just pulled out of the f***ing fight.”
With everything now behind him, Dillashaw admits that while yes he should’ve just pulled out of the fight, he learned a lesson and vowed to never take any banned substances again, and while the criticism will be heavy especially in his return, he’s accepted his the choices he’s made and he’s ready to move forward.
“It’s kind of been a silver lining behind it all, but I would never choose to do it again. I thought I’d be able to get away with it, man. I think the way we should do it is, let any opponent I fight, take it. Cause I actually don’t think it f***ing helped me whatsoever. We are in the wrong sport for what I was taking. No matter, what it’s cheating. And it’s going to be looked at that way and I’m going to be ridiculed for it, I understand that, and I’ve accepted it.”
TJ Dillashaw has shown a tremendous amount of responsibility regarding his decision to take a banned substance and now that he’s served his time, he’s looking to get back to the title that he’s held multiple times. The comeback for Dillashaw starts this weekend at UFC Vegas 32 when he takes on top contender Cory Sandhagen in the main event.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews, BJPenn.com, and TheScrap.Co while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and works as an Associate Producer on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation channel.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to some of the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
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