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T.J. Dillashaw is hoping for an instantaneous name shot upon his return to the UFC but is also willing to fight anybody in the top five. T.J. Dillashaw will return to the UFC after this year after serving a two-year suspension because of a positive drug test for EPO, and also the 35-year old desires to reclaim what he believes is rightfully his: the bantamweight title.
Though Dillashaw hasn’t fought since his first-round TKO loss to then-flyweight champion Henry Cejudo in 2019 — in a bout which he also tested positive for EPO — the prior two-time bantamweight titleholder still feels he deserves an immediate name when he returns.
“I’m ready to go straight for the belt, if that’s the opportunity that comes at me because I know Yan wants it.” Dillashaw advised Mike Swick on the”Real Quick with Mike Swick” podcast (h/t MMA Junkie). “He’s already been vocally talking about it and we’ll see what happens on March 6 when he fights Sterling. He’s got a tough test ahead of him, but that’s the fight he wants. I didn’t leave this sport by losing my belt. He knows there’s a lot of speculation if he’s the real champ because he hasn’t beaten the champion to get that belt, so he wants it. As well as that, I’m the biggest draw for him right now to try to fight.”
If the UFC considers Dillashaw first wants a tune-up fight, but the Colorado resident is available to resist anybody in the top five.
“I’m in a good situation,” he explained. “I think everyone in the top five has called me out. I want to come back and fight the best. I’m 35 years old now, I’ve got a lot of things in life going on, so I want to come back and prove that I’m the best bantamweight of all time, and I want to come back and fight the best. If that’s for the belt right away then so be it. If that’s fighting someone else in the top five, awesome.
“Every person that is out me, I’ve said yes to the UFC, so that is simply showing them that I’m excited to get back inside there. Therefore it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s somebody that’s on peak of the game, because I’m gonna grow up and find that belt back quickly.”
While Dillashaw didn’t mention any names in the top five the Bang Ludwig product could, perhaps, be stoking the fires for a future title eliminator with Cory Sandhagen. ‘The Sandman’ is on a two-fight KO streak and is adamant he deserves the next title shot over Dillashaw.
“If it comes down to this, I believe I should be another one battling for the title, but if we need to eliminate another option, which is T.J., then I’ll struggle T.J., then I’ll fight for your name, also.”