TJ Dillashaw will return to the UFC later this year after serving a two-year suspension due to a positive drug test for EPO, and the 35-year-old wants to claim what he feels is rightfully his: the bantamweight title.
Although Dillashaw hasn’t fought since his first-round TKO loss to then-flyweight champion Henry Cejudo in 2019, in a fight that also tested positive for EPO, the former two-time bantamweight champion still feels he deserves a immediate title when returns.
“I’m ready to go straight for the belt, if that’s the opportunity that comes my way because I know Yan wants it.” Dillashaw told Mike Swick on the podcast “Real Quick with Mike Swick” (h / t MMA Junkie). “He’s already been talking about it verbally and we’ll see what happens on March 6 when he fights Sterling. He has a tough test ahead of him, but that’s the fight he wants. I did not quit this sport by losing my belt. He knows there is a lot of speculation as to whether he is the true champion because he hasn’t beaten the champion to get that belt, so he wants it. On top of that, I’m the biggest draw to him right now to try and fight. “
If the UFC thinks Dillashaw needs a set-up fight first, however, the Colorado resident is open to fighting anyone in the top five.
“I’m in a good situation,” he said. “I think everyone in the top five has criticized me. I want to go back and fight the best. I’m 35 now, I have a lot of things in life, so I want to go back and show that I’m the best bantamweight of all time, and I want to go back and fight the best. . If that’s for the belt right away, so be it. If that’s fighting someone else in the top five, great.
“Every person that called me, I said yes to the UFC, so that just shows them that I’m looking forward to getting back there. So it doesn’t really matter as long as I’m someone who’s on top of the game, because I’m going to come up and get that belt back quickly. “
While Dillashaw didn’t mention any names in the top five, Bang Ludwig’s product could, perhaps, stoke the fire for a future title eliminator with Cory Sandhagen. ‘The Sandman’ is on a two-fight KO streak and is convinced he deserves the next title shot over Dillashaw.
“If it comes down to that, I think I should be the next to fight for the title, but if we need to eliminate another option, which is TJ, then I will fight TJ, and then I will fight for the title. , as well.”