TJ Dillashaw ready to return to bantamweight title picture as the villain: ‘the bad guy gets attention too’

In case you’re questioning whether or not former two-time UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw is apprehensive about his fame coming into Saturday’s return from a two-year USADA suspension, the reply could not be farther from the reality.  

Dillashaw (16-4) was stripped of his 135-pound title in 2019 shortly after proudly owning as much as a failed drug check for EPO that he used to assist minimize weight for his flyweight title loss in a 32-second knockout loss towards Henry Cejudo. 

Now 35, Dillashaw will enter the Octagon for the primary time in 30 months when he faces Cory Sandhagen (14-2) in the primary occasion of UFC Struggle Evening in Las Vegas. The five-round bantamweight bout is anticipated to supply a No. 1 contender for the winner of a proposed rematch between present titleholder Aljamain Sterling and former champion Petr Yan.  

“I’ve already been the villain for a very long time now,” Dillashaw informed “Morning Kombat” on Thursday. “Due to Conor McGregor, I’ve already been the unhealthy man since about 2016 [when the two argued during filming of “The Ultimate Fighter”]. So perhaps this sort of ready me for it.  

“The unhealthy man will get consideration too. The unhealthy man will get massive checks so hate me however fill my pockets.” 

Contemplating Dillashaw’s earlier expertise of being labeled a foul teammate throughout a heated two-fight collection towards Cody Garbrandt during which the general public appeared to show towards him, it has been a very long time for the reason that native of Sonora, California, has appeared to social media for any form of validation.  

“I positively discovered on this sport being in entrance of the general public eye in a short time to not learn the feedback or give a shit what individuals say about you as a result of it is not going to be good,” Dillashaw stated. “In case you get entangled in that, you study actual fast that folks do not have lives.” 

Cannot get sufficient boxing and MMA? Get the newest on this planet of fight sports activities from two of the perfect within the enterprise. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the perfect evaluation and in-depth information, together with an unique interview with TJ Dillashaw forward of Saturday evening’s combat beneath.

Ought to anybody name into query the deserves of his whole profession primarily based upon one failed drug check from two years in the past, Dillashaw is ready to again up his response with documented details. And may that not be sufficient to take away any form of asterisk within the courtroom of public opinion from a 10-year UFC run that has seen Dillashaw put himself within the dialog among the many biggest bantamweights within the sport’s historical past, the previous champion nonetheless has his default villain smirk able to remind simply how little he cares.  

“They’re simply jealous of who I’m as a result of it is all public. Everybody can search on the USADA database of who has been examined and who failed,” Dillashaw stated. “After I failed that drug check, USADA put me underneath a microscope they usually retested all of my drug samples from once they began testing with the UFC. Not solely did I cross them the primary time, I re-passed them once more.  

“So let’s take into consideration this as a logical, widespread sense human being. Did I simply overlook the best way to cheat? I simply forgot the best way to do it and determined to be caught? What the f— are you considering? Have some widespread sense. I can say this till I’m blue within the face, however it ain’t going to matter as a result of that is what occurs.” 

All the time one to hunt out the positives from each life expertise, even people who appear unfavorable on the floor, Dillashaw by no means lingered throughout his layoff about whether or not he made a poor resolution to chop down 10 kilos in hopes of changing into a two-division champion. He has even much less regret relating to his resolution to make use of EPO and the check he ultimately failed, largely due to the nice that has come from it.  

Not solely did Dillashaw use the two-year break to relaxation his physique and thoughts, together with surgical procedures on each shoulders, he discovered who he truly was as an individual as soon as he was compelled to quickly shelf his id as a star fighter.  

“Each unhealthy scenario that occurs to you, you need to take positives from it so you’ll be able to bounce again from it,” Dillashaw stated. “Do I remorse [fighting Cejudo at flyweight]? 100%. However I used to be chasing the last word need to be pound-for-pound and baddest man on the planet. I needed that objective, I educated to be the perfect. However finally, after I grew to become anemic and knew I used to be f—ed, I ought to have simply not taken the combat.  

“Nevertheless it was a giant payday and a change-your-life ceaselessly form of scenario. Folks can say regardless of the f— they need however when that is in entrance of you, it’s what it’s.”

Ballooning to 168 kilos throughout his time away by specializing in maintaining a healthy diet fat, Dillashaw labored on shifting his focus from combating to being extra current for his spouse and son whereas additionally beginning his personal natural juice bar and meals truck enterprise.  

“It was fairly superior to be a civilian and lead a standard life,” Dillashaw stated. “I discovered that I will be good outdoors of combating. I will be simply fantastic. I really feel like that phrase retirement is a scary phrase for fighters. What the f— are you going to do now that you’re finished combating? Now I do know. I do know that I might be OK. I am not simply TJ Dillashaw the fighter, I am TJ Dillashaw the nice father and profitable entrepreneur.” 

Due to his newfound monetary freedom separate from combating, Dillashaw stated he was able of leverage the place he did not want to simply accept the primary combat provided to him upon his UFC return. He admits to turning down a number of affords to face fighters outdoors of the highest 5 till the decision got here in for Sandhagen.  

In an ideal world, Dillashaw stated he was ready to come back again and combat immediately for the title he was stripped of and by no means misplaced, however Yan’s disqualification title loss to Sterling made that troublesome. In his thoughts, Dillashaw hoped combat followers would make a stink about him going proper from a suspension to a title shot and imagined himself exclaiming, “Daddy’s again! Obtained my belt,” upon regaining his title.  

However the probability to combat Sandhagen turned out to be the subsequent neatest thing. A 29-year-old native of Colorado, Sandhagen is 7-1 since making his UFC debut in 2018 and is contemporary off stoppage wins towards Marlon Moraes and Frankie Edgar.  

Dillashaw additionally beforehand sparred at size towards Sandhagen and believes he bought the higher of it in methods that can assist him on Saturday. 

“[The fight] goes to appear like me being victorious,” Dillashaw stated. “[I’m 35 but] I by no means fought somebody who stated TJ is gradual or stated TJ would not have energy. I am nicely rounded, I will work onerous and push the tempo. I am imply as shit and I will win this combat.” | TJ Dillashaw able to return to bantamweight title image because the villain: ‘the unhealthy man will get consideration too’


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