UFC bantamweight Marlon Vera believes former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw handled his positive drug test and subsequent USADA suspension in the best way.
In the UFC Vegas 32 main event last July, Dillashaw returned to the Octagon for the first time since 2019. His prior appearance, a first-round loss to Henry Cejudo in their flyweight title clash was followed by revelations of performance-enhancing drug usage.
Three months after his defeat to “Triple C,” Dillashaw was slapped with a two-year suspension after testing positive for recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO). In response to the punishment, a post-shoulder surgery Dillashaw addressed the situation in a video.
In the clip, he apologized to his coaches, family, and teammates. He also announced that he wouldn’t be hiding away. Instead, he said he intended on facing the incident head-on.
Now, having returned to the win column and secured his place back in the bantamweight top five, Dillashaw is hoping to move beyond his past struggles and hold the 135-pound gold for a third time.
Nevertheless, the Californian still has his detractors, many of whom suggest his PED usage will forever be a stain on his record and legacy. But whether or not that is the case, one of Dillashaw’s UFC peers believes he approached the suspension in the best manner possible.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Marlon Vera discussed Dillashaw’s discretions. After describing former opponent and current ONE Championship bantamweight king John Lineker as a “f*cking cheater,” Vera was reminded of Dillashaw’s run-in with USADA.
Despite maintaining that he’ll never understand why fighters choose to take PEDs, “Chito” did admit he respects how Dillashaw, a good friend of his, handled the situation.
“I like Dillashaw, he’s a good guy… He came out in the public and said, ‘Hey guys, I f*cked up, I did it.’ I respect that,” said Vera. “Like, I think that’s the best way to get away with, not away with doing it, but away with what happened, (if) you’re like, ‘Hey guys, I f*cked up. Yes, I did it.’
“Most guys who test positive, they just don’t say nothing and get away with it. They get a suspension and everything. But he came and made a video,” added Vera. “That (PED usage) was probably one of the most f*cked up things to do… But at least he faced it, right? But I do not respect—I would never cheat in my life. I do not understand that.”
Vera Shuts The Door On Fighting Friend Dillashaw
While Dillashaw has jumped right back into the bantamweight shark tank at #2 following his comeback triumph over Cory Sandhagen last year, divisional mainstay Vera has risen to #8 after back-to-back wins against Davey Grant and former lightweight king Frankie Edgar.
But despite closing in on each other in the rankings, Vera doesn’t expect to share the Octagon with Dillashaw due to their positive personal relationship. He told Helwani that after the way the veteran treated him in the past, he won’t be calling him out.
“I know, you’re the first person to bring this up. I never call him out, and I think I won’t call him out. We’re cool. We’re actually cool,” said Vera. “We’ve trained in the past, and when I lost back-to-back, he basically opened the doors of his gym for me to get a different look and just like, kind of re-do myself. I respect that and I’m grateful for that. That’s why when people ask me before I’m like, ‘No, I’m not fighting that guy. I like him.’ So, for the record, I’m not doing it.”
Vera could jump even closer to Dillashaw’s position if he emerges victorious next time out. After his memorable knockout last November, “Chito” is set for his first experience in the main event spotlight.
The Ecuadorian will headline the UFC’s April 30 Fight Night against Rob Font. Given Font’s placement at #5 on the ladder, a win for Vera should see him enter the top five for the first time. From there, one more success could set him up for a shot at gold.
Do you agree with Marlon Vera? Did TJ Dillashaw handle his USADA suspension in the correct way?