730 days. That is how long former UFC Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw has been forced to sit out for. 2 years later, he is now officially allowed to leave the sidelines and step into the Octagon.
Dillashaw’s last fight would come against Henry Cejudo who successfully defended his belt in only 32 seconds. The loss was devastating. The two-time champ had not achieved his dream of becoming a two-weight world champion and post-fight he protested the ‘early’ stoppage. The bantamweight kingpin would go on to prepare for a rematch with Henry Cejudo at his home of 135 lbs. However, little did he know, his career would take a drastic turn.
Months later, another career-defining moment took place. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) would go on to make a shocking discovery from drug tests submitted by Dillashaw. Recombinant human erythropoietin, better known as EPO, was found in his system surrounding his Flyweight debut.
EPO is an performance-enhancing drug, often times used to better an athlete’s cardio. In this case, USADA’s latest perpetrator, used it to be faster than ever regardless of a draining weight cut to 125lbs.
The Vice President of UFC Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novitsky explained the situation.
“I’m quite familiar with EPO from my days investigating professional cycling teams.” Novitsky said. “It’s a very effective substance. It’s not a substance you find in contaminated supplements, it’s injectable only. You have to know what you’re doing when it enters your system.
”On a scale of seriousness in anti-doping, it’s up near the top.”
Dillashaw would not contest the organization’s decision for suspension. In other words, Dillashaw knew exactly what he was doing and is paying the price… until now that it is.
Per USADA’s press release, Dillashaw’s suspension has now ended. Today marks the first day he’s eligible to fight once again in the UFC. The illuring question that is now on everybody’s mind is who should the former king face in his return? Petr Yan is fighting Aljamain Sterling in his first title defense. Cory Sandhagen is fighting Frankie Edgar. 4 out of the top 7 bantamweights are now officially booked against each other, with Jose Aldo and Cody Garbrandt potentially facing off in April.
That leaves Rob Font as the sole contender in the top 7. Font has been campaigning for the ex-champ ever since his KO win over Marlon Moraes. This could be a fight that makes sense, however, according to Dana White, TJ Dillashaw may possibly get a title shot upon request.
Whatever the fight may be, TJ Dillashaw is back. Fight fans (and USADA) will have a watchful eye on his comeback.