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Morning Report: T.J. Dillashaw wants immediate title shot upon his return, Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling respond

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In 2019, T.J. Dillashaw relinquished his bantamweight title after testing positive for EPO in relation to his flyweight title fight against Henry Cejudo and was suspended for two years by USADA. Dillashaw will be eligible to return to fighting this upcoming January, and when he is able to come back, Dillashaw is hoping to get right back to where he was before his suspension.

“I want that title. I want it right away,” Dillashaw told ESPN this week. “You’ve got a guy Petr Yan who beat someone for the belt that is 0-2 in the division. Jose Aldo has two losses [at 135 pounds] and he beat him for the title so how are you calling yourself a champion? To me you’re an interim champion. That belt has changed hands every fight. There’s been no one there sitting there being dominant. That is my belt so I want to come back, I want that title fight.

“I know Aljamain Sterling and Yan are fighting, which is deserved. Sterling’s been looking good, he’s dominant. Get that fight out of the way and I want the winner. I was hoping they were going to fight the 12th but that got pushed back so we’ll see what comes of it. There’s no messing around. I don’t want no tune-up fights.”

Since Dillashaw’s removal from the division, 135 pounds has been in a state of tumult. The man who knocked Dillashaw out at flyweight, Cejudo, moved up and won the vacant belt with a stoppage of Marlon Moraes. Cejudo then defended his title against former champion Dominick Cruz (who himself was coming off a loss) and then promptly retired from the sport, vacating the bantamweight belt once again. In the aftermath, the UFC created yet another fight for the vacant title, this time between Petr Yan and Aldo, who was on a two-fight losing streak at the time. Yan ended up winning the belt and was supposed to face Aljamain Sterling at UFC 256 but the fight was postponed due to visa issues for Yan. With the constant upheaval going on in the division, Dillashaw’s contention is that Yan is a paper champion right now.

“He’s well-rounded. He’s good,” Dillashaw said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s not good. The division is a great division right now. We’ve got some great guys in it. I’m just saying there’s not a champion. You can’t beat a guy that’s 0-2 in the weight class and call yourself the undisputed champion. Even when Cejudo came in and won, he beat (Marlon) Moraes and sh*t, Moraes was no champion. He’s got the cardio of French Bulldog, all (Cejudo) had to do was outlast him for a round and then he beat him. So (Cejudo) beat him and then he beat (Dominick) Cruz coming off the couch, ready to retire. He leaves and now Petr Yan beats a guy that’s 0-2. To be honest, the weight class is f*cked up. It’s ready for me to come back. I’m ready to throw a wrench in it all get my belt back.”

Unsurprisingly, many other top level bantamweights are not in agreement with Dillashaw. Following his interview, a number of UFC bantamweights weighed in on Dillashaw’s remarks, including the current champion.

Sterling bringing up Cory Sandhagen also makes sense as that is a fighter many had earmarked as a possible opponent for Dillashaw upon his return, and though Dillashaw obviously were prefer a title fight immediately, if he has to take another opponent first, the former champion seems to be amenable to Sandhagen.

“He wants to fight me because he knows that’s his way to the title,” Dillashaw said. “The title shot is mine, and he wants to fight me because he wants to fight for the title. If I have to fight someone else, it better be in the top 5.”

Dillashaw is eligible to fight again on Jan. 18 of next year.


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Highly recommend watching that Dillashaw interview. He gives what appear to be very honest answers, especially about how he would probably have justified the EPO use had he never gotten caught. I found it fascinating.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the fights, and see y’all on Monday.



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