Due back in early-2021, TJ Dillashaw is already on the radar of some of the UFC’s best bantamweights, and he has no shortage of options for his return fight.
We’ll have been waiting more than two years for TJ Dillashaw’s return when the former two-time UFC bantamweight champions enters the Octagon next year. Dillashaw tested positive for EPO, a banned substance, and was handed a two-year suspension by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in early 2019.
Now, after serving his time, and healing up from shoulder surgeries, Dillashaw is on his way back to the cage. Last we saw him, the former title-holder was getting TKO’d by then-flyweight champ Henry Cejudo in around 30 seconds. Despite his most recent performance, one would still have to assume Dillashaw will return at a relatively high level.
He’ll turn 35 in February of 2021, and although he’s coming off of a loss, Dillashaw has never lost back-to-back fights. While his fight schedule has slowed in recent years, this lay-off is unlike anything he’s faced in his career thus far. What does he have left in the tank?
Thankfully, we’ll get to find out. Fairly soon, too. There are some fun and interesting options for the UFC to pair with Dillashaw, offering a variety of different selling-points.
In a world without injuries and drug testing, we likely would’ve seen Cruz-Dillashaw 2 already. The duo last fought in January of 2016, with Cruz taking the split-decision win, and Dillashaw’s bantamweight belt. Cruz stayed busy the rest of 2016, but has fought just once in the last four-ish years.
That bout came earlier this year, when he lost to now-former champ Henry Cejudo at UFC 249. Whether or not he’d be interested in a rematch, while likely having competed for a UFC title for the final time, remains to be seen. But, he’s still in the rankings, for whatever that’s worth.
For Dillashaw, it’s a chance to defeat one of the few guys who’ve managed to beat him, gives him a high-profile name in his return, and a winnable matchup after a couple of years away from the Octagon.