The wait is over, TJ Dillashaw is available to re-enter the octagon once again.
The former UFC bantamweight champion of the world has seen his two-year suspension from competition completed, after he tested positive after fighting against Henry Cejudo for the flyweight title back in 2019.
Since then Cejudo moved up to bantamweight, won the title, defended it and retired, then Petr Yan won the vacant belt. It’s been a whirlwind of a two years for the UFC’s 135lbs weight class, but Dillashaw believes that he is the uncrowned champ after never losing the belt.
Despite admitting to cheating to help him cut weight for his fight with Cejudo, Dillashaw is now eligible to return to action and many have thrown their names into the hat to welcome him back to the division.
The fight on everyone’s lips right now is Jose Aldo. The Brazilian former featherweight champion has come down to bantamweight while Dillashaw has been away and had mixed success. He lost his debut to Marlon Moraes, although many had him winning on the scorecards, before being granted a title shot for the vacant title and being knocked out by Petr Yan.
He returned to action with a win over Marlon Vera at the back end of 2020 and called out Dillashaw for his next bout and it’s a fight that makes sense.
Two huge names, both looking to get back into contention for the title and on a similar timeline for a bout. It could work.
Rob Font also got a big win on the same card, knocking out Marlon Moraes viciously in the first round of their fight before calling out Dillashaw himself. Font made waves with the win and moved up into contender status and believes a fight against the former champ will boost him into the conversation more.
Dillashaw however doesn’t agree with either of those bouts, as he feels he deserves to get straight back in the cage in a title fight.
That would mean he would fight the winner of the Yan vs Aljamain Sterling bout that is currently scheduled for UFC 259 in March. The two were scheduled to fight in December originally but Yan was forced to withdraw following visa complications owing to COVID-19.
With that fight now ready to happen, if Dillashaw wants to wait for the winner then we likely won’t be seeing him in action until the third quarter of the year. There is also no guarantee that the UFC give him that fight, with the division absolutely stacked with talent right now.
His best bet in my eyes, would be a fight with the winner of the co-main event at UFC Vegas 18 between Cory Sandhagen and Frankie Edgar.
The two are due to meet after winning their last bouts relatively comfortably, when Sandhagen knocked out Moraes in the second round in a stunning performance, while Edgar came away with a split decision win against Pedro Munhoz.
With both men coming off a win having lost the previous bout, a win in this one alone likely won’t be enough to earn them a title shot unless it’s a highly spectacular performance. The best bet for them is likely to be a clash with Dillashaw after this fight, to set up a number one contender bout for the winner of Yan vs Sterling.
With Cody Garbrandt calling for an Aldo fight before moving down to flyweight to challenge for a title, Font can fight with Moraes to keep the division moving.
That leaves the top of the division all matched up and with the biggest star in the weight class returning for a high stakes fight. Make it happen Dana.
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