TJ Dillashaw will no longer be the UFC bantamweight champion, as the 135-pound fighter announced he was “voluntarily relinquishing” the title after the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed him of an “adverse finding” on a drug test taken before his last bout.
The NYSAC later confirmed the news, releasing a statement announcing a one-year suspension and a $10,000 fine for Dillashaw.
Test Results Yet to Be Revealed
Dillashaw (17-4) first relayed the news to fans via a statement posted to his Instagram account on Wednesday morning.
“While words can’t even begin to express how disappointed I am at this time, please know that I’m working with my team to understand what has occurred and how to resolve this situation as quickly as possible,” Dillashaw wrote. “Out of fairness and respect to the rest of my division, I’ve informed the UFC that I’ll be voluntarily relinquishing my title while I deal with this matter.”
While the NYSAC confirmed the suspension with a statement of its own, neither party made any reference to what came up on a test to trigger the suspension. The USADA also released a statement that was short on details due to the ongoing nature of the case.
“In this instance, we are able to confirm the finding due to Mr. Dillashaw’s public statement,” the USADA statement read. “The presumption of innocence under the rules is a vital part of an effective anti-doping program and it’s only fair that Mr. Dillashaw be allowed due process before any conclusions are drawn.”
Suspension Scuttles Cejudo Rematch
Dillashaw was ranked as the No. 7 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, and recently sought to become the promotion’s latest multiple weight class champion. In January, he moved down to the flyweight division to fight Henry Cejudo, but was stopped in just 32 seconds by the divisional champion.
That result had led to speculation that Cejudo (14-2) might fight a rematch with Dillashaw at 135 pounds, in the hopes of adding the bantamweight title to his belt. Those thoughts were certainly echoed by Eric Albarracin, Cejudo’s coach, following Wednesday’s announcement.
“This sucks,” Albarracin told ESPN. “Henry wanted that rivalry/money fight and the 135-pound belt and to shut the critics up once and for all.”
Both Albarracin and Cejudo expressed sympathy for Dillashaw, saying they were still waiting on the final determination before passing judgement on him.
“Some people have been wrongly accused in the past,” Cejudo told ESPN. “I want to reserve judgment, but I also want to say I never wish to fight anyone who uses PEDs again. There’s no place for that in MMA. This isn’t baseball or basketball. This is another human being with four-ounce gloves hitting another human being.”
With Dillashaw abdicating the title, the UFC will likely set up a featured fight to determine a new bantamweight champion before long. While there are several worthy contenders in one of the promotion’s deepest divisions, No. 1 contender Marlon Moraes (22-5) would seem to be a natural choice, with Pedro Munhoz, Aljamain Sterling, and Raphael Assuncao also potentially in the mix.