TJ Dillashaw’s Return is one of the more intriguing focus points in the MMA world for 2021. The landscape for possible matchmaking permutations is continually changing for the former two-time UFC bantamweight champion.
Multiple elite 135 pounders like Dominick Cruz, Cory Sandhagen, Frankie Edgar, Pedro Munhoz, Jimmie Rivera, and Raphael Assuncao would have all been great prospective matchups at one point but they now all have dance partners lined up for the first quarter of the new year.
Dillashaw mentioned in an ESPN interview that he wants to return in March. So who represents a viable option for his comeback bout?
Font vaulted himself into the upper echelon of the bantamweight hierarchy when he stopped the #3 ranked Marlon Moraes via first-round knockout. He was ranked number eleven prior to that finish over the weekend. Font now likely opens himself up to some key opportunities within the top five of the divisional hierarchy now.
Rob Font has the momentum behind him that accompanies getting a highlight reel stoppage of a former title contender. Font also specifically called out TJ Dillashaw in the post-fight press conference after his Moraes victory.
If Dillashaw beats Font, he collects the scalp of a contender on a three-fight win streak. If Font wins, he collects the kind of W that jettisons him towards title challenger status.
Aldo threw his name into the hat as well for Dillashaw’s return opponent after besting Marlon Vera this past weekend. Jose Aldo also utilized his time within Saturday’s post-event presser to call out the former Team Alpha Male standout.
This would be a brilliant bout and would no doubt appeal to some fantasy matchmaking among hardcore fans. The longtime featherweight king in Aldo taking on the well-established bantamweight titlist in Dillashaw.
Aldo vs Dillashaw could easily headline a fight night card or serve as a meaningful co-main event on a pay per view. It’s a dream fight with tremendous value to the 135 lb rankings in the present and based on the fighting styles of both men, it could well become the fight of the year for 2021 should it come to fruition.
Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling winner
In that aforementioned ESPN interview, Dillashaw mentioned wanting to take on the winner of the next title bout. This could presumably time out well as the Yan vs Sterling bout is expected to go down early in the new year. Ultimately, I do not see Dillashaw securing this title shot though.
I could foresee a situation where if TJ Dillashaw gets back into the win column in-style, they put him in there for a crack at the title. Not as of this juncture with Dillashaw coming off of his emphatic stoppage loss for Henry Cejudo’s flyweight belt. I think the UFC holds off on putting him in another championship affair right away.
TJ Dillashaw’s Return
Personally, I think the Jose Aldo matchup makes a great deal of sense and I see that as the likeliest option for Dillashaw’s return outing.
Who do you think ends up standing opposite the decorated bantamweight for TJ Dillashaw’s Return?
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.