T.J. Dillashaw makes his return to the Octagon after two years on Saturday at UFC Vegas 32.
T.J. Dillashaw returns to the Octagon on Saturday after two years away due to a USADA suspension. The ruling was handed down to Dillashaw in March 2019, after he tested positive for EPO.
Dillashaw has been upfront about his usage of EPO, claiming that he used it only to drop down to flyweight, in an attempt to become a two-division champion. Dillashaw’s return has been highly anticipated, with the UFC even producing a documentary series on his return on their UFC Chronicles series.
The former UFC men’s bantamweight champion is now 35-years-old and says he is destined to recapture the championship that was stripped from him after his positive test. Dillashaw is 12-4 in the UFC and comes into Saturday’s bout with Cory Sandhagen as the underdog for just the third time in his career.
A brief history of T.J. Dillashaw’s UFC career
Dillashaw signed with the UFC in 2011, coming in as a wrestling prospect out of the NCAA’s Pac-10. Dillashaw finished his senior year at California State University at Fullerton in 2009, and was ranked 10th in the nation at his weight class, and was a three-time NCAA Championship qualifier.
Dillashaw competed for the first time in the UFC on Dec. 3, 2011, at the Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale against John Dodson, losing the bout via first-round TKO.
From there, Dillashaw would rattle off a four-fight winning streak, picking up stoppage victories in three of his four fights from 2012 to late 2013.
The next loss of his UFC career came in a fight of the night performance against Raphael Assuncao in October of 2013, losing by a controversial split decision.
Dillashaw bounced back from his loss to Assuncao with a solid performance against Mike Eaton in January of 2014. The win put him back in the bantamweight title picture, and in the driver’s seat for a series of events that would alter the course of his career going forward.
T.J. Dillashaw’s first championship reign
In May 2014, the then UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao was to face Raphael Assunção, who was hot off his recent win over Dillashaw just a few months earlier. However, due to a rib injury sustained in his bout with Dillashaw, Assuncao was unable to take the fight.
With the UFC 173 main and co-main event having fallen off the card, the UFC put the spotlight on Renan Barao, as he defended his UFC gold against a short-notice replacement in Dillashaw.
In what was one of the biggest upset victories in UFC history, Dillashaw defeated Barao by TKO in the fifth round, and captured the UFC bantamweight championship.
Dillashaw would defend the title again Barao a year later in July of 2015, this time coming in as the strong betting favorite. Dillashaw won the bout via TKO 35-seconds into the fourth round.
Dillashaw would then go on to drop his championship to Dominick Cruz in early 2016 at UFC Boston. Dillashaw lost the fight via split decision but still managed to pick up a fight of the night bonus.
After losing the title, Dillashaw would return to the Octagon at the historical UFC 200 in Las Vegas. Dillashaw would face Raphael Assuncao again, in a rematch from 2013. Dillashaw picked up the decision victory over Assuncao, avenging his loss to Brazillian from three years prior.
Dillashaw made his third UFC appearance in 2016 against John Lineker at UFC 207 in December, picking up the decision victory. It would be announced just a few weeks later that Dillashaw would be one of the coaches for The Ultimate Fighter 25.
T.J. Dillashaw’s second UFC Championship
Dillashaw defeated then UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrant by second-round TKO at UFC 217 in November 2017. The win marked Dillashaw’s second title reign of his career.
Dillashaw would defend the championship against Garbrant a year later at UFC 227 in Los Angeles, defeating him again by way of a first-round knockout. The win marked the third successful title defense for Dillashaw in his career, in two separate title reigns.
Dillashaw vs. Cejudo Superfight and USADA Suspension
Dillashaw would make an attempt at becoming the fourth fighter in UFC history to become a two-division champion, as he moved down a weight class to face UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo. Dillashaw’s flyweight debut did not go as planned, as Cejudo won the bout in just thirty-two seconds, winning by TKO.
Dillashaw tested positive for erythropoietin in both pre and post-fight drug tests, and was stripped of his UFC bantamweight championship in March 2019, and was handed down a two-year suspension.
Dillashaw makes his return to the UFC Octagon on Saturday at UFC Vegas 32 against former Team Elevation training partner, Cory Sandhagen.