After more than two years out the game owing to a failed drug test and USADA suspension, former two-time titleholder Dillashaw returned to the Octagon last July at UFC Vegas 32. Seeing no need for a tune-up fight, the veteran jumped straight back into the deep end against then-#2 contender Cory Sandhagen.
Overcoming some heavy adversity in the form of a deep cut and a serious knee injury sustained inside the opening round, Dillashaw secured victory by way of split decision, leaving him back in the bantamweight shark tank and in line for a shot at regaining his place on the throne.
But despite Dillashaw’s calls for a title shot, as well as champion Aljamain Sterling’s apparent willingness to face the challenge of the Californian next, one top-10 bantamweight sees a Dillashaw championship opportunity as ludicrous.
During a recent interview on The MMA Hour, Cruz, who dethroned Dillashaw back in 2016, suggested that the UFC would be providing a “hook-up” for the 36-year-old by placing him in a title fight after just one fight back from suspension.
In response, Dillashaw branded the current #8-ranked contender as a “salty c*nt” who’s jealous that he’s been able to maintain his place at the top of the division despite a lengthy layoff.
“He sounds like a salty c*nt, to be honest,” asserted Dillashaw during an appearance on Submission Radio. “He’s just jealous of me being able to stay at the top with my layoff and how long I’ve been in the sport, and me being able to come back and prove that I’m still the best, you know?”
In criticizing what looks to be a likely title shot for Dillashaw, Cruz also seemed to suggest that Dillashaw won’t have been truly punished for his infractions should he be granted the next fight with Sterling, especially considering that he “didn’t really lose any money” during his period away from the cage.
According to Dillashaw, the idea that he didn’t suffer from a loss of income during his suspension, which led to him losing the 135-pound title, is far from the truth.
“And I did lose money, right? Me not fighting for two years while being the champion is a lot of money out of my pocket, you know, (if I kept) racking the wins, getting title defenses,” suggested Dillashaw. “I mean, we’re talking about million and millions of dollars that I let slip through my fingers because I made a f*cking stupid mistake.
“I paid my time, I came back and f*cking grinded to get that win (over Sandhagen) on one leg and one eye, and there’s nothing you can do to deny me, that’s my shot,” insisted Dillashaw.
Dillashaw: “Salty” Is Cruz’s Personality
Ultimately, Dillashaw didn’t seem too surprised by Cruz’s comments. He went on to suggest that being “salty” about the success of others is simply a big part of the 37-year-old’s personality.
Dillashaw also explained that Cruz is likely looking to downplay his title credentials because he won’t ever make it back to contention himself.
“He’s just being salty, and that’s kinda his personality anyways. He’s kind of an unlikeable dude,” said Dillashaw. “I mean, I’ve always respected him, I think he’s got a good eye for stuff, but he’s got like, this chip on his shoulder where he feels like everything’s owed to him. He’s always complaining about sh*t.
“It’s just his personality. Of course, he’s gonna say that. But it’s because he’ll never get there again,” added Dillashaw. “I don’t think he’s ever gonna have a shot to get the belt back. That probably bothers him because, at one time, he was the best.”
While Cruz, who is riding a two-fight win streak following 2021 victories over Casey Kenney and Pedro Munhoz, will be looking for the next opponent who can help him claw his way back to the top, it seems more than likely that Dillashaw is already there.
As well as Sterling’s in-person post-fight callout at UFC 273, both men have gone back and forth on social media and in interviews. It seems only a matter of time until that bout gets booked, especially given that Dillashaw has made a full recovery following two knee surgeries last year.
Who do you agree with, TJ Dillashaw or Dominick Cruz?