After serving a two-year suspension following a positive test for EPO in 2019, Dillashaw returned to action in the UFC Vegas 32 main event in July. Against Sandhagen, who was the #2-ranked bantamweight at the time, the former UFC bantamweight champion impressed in his comeback fight and edged out a tight split-decision victory.
The win certainly wasn’t without adversity. Along with injuring his knee early in the headlining fight, “The Sandman” busted Dillashaw open, leaving the Californian with a nasty cut above the eye.
Despite assuring the doctor and referee Herb Dean that he could see clearly, Dillashaw has admitted that the blood flow into his eyes affected him throughout the bout.
During an appearance on Submission Radio, the 35-year-old mentioned the injury issues he dealt with leading up to the fight, and went on to reveal he’d lied about his vision to ensure the main event didn’t get stopped.
“I guess camp kinda prepared me to be able to deal with injuries in the fight, I guess. Because I had to kinda bury my injuries down deep during fight camp, and I had to definitely do it during the fight. And then let alone getting open in the second round, my eye, having to lie to the ref and tell him I can see…I just didn’t want the fight to get stopped.”
Expanding on his statements, Dillashaw described his assurances to the doctor, and suggested he’d only been able to see clearly for the opening minute of each round.
“The doctor came in, I was like, ‘Yeah, man, I got it. Don’t worry. I can see.’ And at the time, I couldn’t, so walking out I was sure to take his wipey and I tried to wipe my eye even more and they told me I wasn’t able to do that…so just kinda had to tough it out, really, to be honest.”
Having battled through the five-round war and marked his return to action a success, Dillashaw has his eyes set on reclaiming UFC gold. After undergoing surgery in recent weeks, the 35-year-old is targeting a three-month recovery, which will see him return to the Octagon early next year.
Despite recently suggesting he’d be interested in a clash with fellow legend José Aldo, Dillashaw’s first goal is to reach the bantamweight mountaintop again by facing the winner of Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan‘s rematch for the belt.
Do you think TJ Dillashaw can become the UFC bantamweight champion again?