UFC bantamweight TJ Dillashaw believes his UFC Vegas 32 performance proved his doubters wrong, and allowed him to “really find out” who his friends are.
Having served a two-year suspension following a positive test for EPO in 2019, Dillashaw returned to action inside the UFC Apex last month. Against top contender Cory Sandhagen, many predicted that the former UFC Bantamweight Champion would struggle against such stiff competition in his first fight back.
That certainly wasn’t the case. After pushing through some early adversity in the form of a knee injury and a deep cut close to the eye, the Californian found his rhythm and grinded out a split decision victory.
Given the nature of his suspension, and the opinions put forward about his performance-enhancing drug usage by the likes of Urijah Faber and Cody Garbrandt, Dillashaw’s victory was crucial in showing that he doesn’t need PEDs to perform at the highest level.
Looking back on his impressive Octagon return during a recent appearance on Submission Radio, the 35-year-old said that his win made a big statement to those who have doubted him over the past few years.
“I guess a big middle finger to all the doubters and huge hugs to everyone who stayed with me and supported me…”
Dillashaw added that his recent success allowed him to differentiate between his real allies and those who only support him when he’s at the top.
“I got to really find out who my friends are, who my teammates are, and who my closest ones are because everyone wants to be your friend when you’re on top of the world. But when you hit rock bottom, that’s when you find out who’s really your ride-or-dies, you know? So yeah, just to prove to everyone that the cardio I had was from my hard work and not from any kind of bullshit, and it really was from the weight-cut.”
Having returned to the win column and immediately inserted himself as the #2-ranked man in the bantamweight division, Dillashaw has his sights set on the 135-pound gold next.
Despite interest in a matchup from Brazilian legend José Aldo, the former champion has stated his intention to challenge the winner of Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan’s championship rematch early next year after recovering from his knee surgery.
Do you think TJ Dillashaw will become the UFC Bantamweight Champion again?