Set to return from his two-year retroactive USADA suspension in the coming days, former two-time UFC bantamweight champion, T.J. Dillashaw is expected to surprisingly see a potential immediate shot at Octagon gold floated his way. 

The Californian is currently serving a two-year retroactive suspension issued by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, after he provided an in-competition drug test sample which returned a positive test result for the banned substance, erythropoietin, otherwise known as EPO. 

Slapped with the sidelining following his January 2019 UFC Fight Night Brooklyn title challenge defeat to former flyweight kingpin, Henry ‘Triple C’ Cejudo, Dillashaw, who was attempting to add the 125-pound title to his bantamweight spoils suffered a quickfire opening-round knockout loss. 

Vacating his bantamweight championship, Dillashaw released a statement in which he detailed how he had been notified by USADA that they had uncovered some “adverse findings” in a test sample provided by him, ultimately resulting in a two-year retroactive ban.

Maintaining that he will fight for the undisputed championship upon his Octagon return, Dillashaw, who has recently been the subject of call-outs from both former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, and New England Cartel staple, Rob Font — may find himself as a challenger from the get-go on his return. 

Speaking with ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto recently, UFC president, Dana White claimed the promotion would consult Dillashaw about his thoughts on receiving an immediate shot at bantamweight spoils upon his Octagon return, and if he’s ready for such a prospect.

We gotta talk to him (T.J. Dillashaw) about that,” White said. “He would know the answer to that question better than we would.

Riding a four-fight winning run prior to his first frame knockout loss to the since retired, Cejudo — Bang Muay Thai trainee, Dillashaw had earned a title matchup with former Team Alpha MMA teammate, Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt via a couple of unanimous decision wins over Brazilian duo, Raphael Assuncao, and John Lineker.

Finishing his Ohio rival via a second-round knockout, Dillashaw seized the bantamweight throne, rallying from a buzzer-beating first-round knockdown in their UFC 217 co-main event.

Headlining UFC 227 in August of 2018 against Gabrandt, Dillashaw improved to 2-0 against the former champion, this time stopping the power-puncher with first-round strikes after a wicked exchange in the pocket which the former failed to recover from. 

While bantamweight counterparts are sure to question Dillashaw’s case for an immediate title tilt off the back of a rather frowned upon suspension, current titleholder, Petr ‘No Mercy’ Yan is finally slated to match with perennial contender, Aljamain ‘Funk Master’ Sterling at UFC 249 in March — as part of a triple-header of title fights. 

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.