TJ Dillashaw started 2019 with hopes of having two UFC championships, and now he’s about to have none.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was the first to report that Dillashaw tested positive for a prohibited substance in a test dating back to his Jan. 19 fight with Henry Cejudo in Brooklyn. The NYSAC has suspended Dillashaw for one year and fined him $10,000.
Breaking from the NYSAC:
The New York State Athletic Commission issued a one-year suspension and $10,000 fine to TJ Dillashaw for violations relating to use of a prohibited substance. NYSAC has no further comment at this time.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 20, 2019
Dillashaw chose to get in front of the story by releasing a statement through his Instagram Wednesday morning. The statement reads:
To all my fans, I wanted to be the first one to let you know that USADA and the NYSAC have informed me of an adverse finding in a test taken from my last fight. 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. Out of fairness and respect to the rest of the my division, I’ve informed the UFC that I’ll be voluntarily relinquishing my title while I deal with this matter. I want to thank all of you in advance for the support.
UFC has yet to comment publicly on the failure and Dillashaw’s decision to relinquish the title.
Dillashaw lost a :32 second knockout to Cejudo in a fight that saw Dillashaw move down to 125 pounds for the first time. Throughout fight week, Dillashaw talked about how easy the weight cut had gone for him. Many doubted Dillashaw’s ability to make the cut due to how chiselled he looked at 135 pounds. He did make the weight successfully but obviously didn’t fare so well in the fight.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: This is interesting the way this has come together. The Dillashaw-Cejudo fight was two months ago. It was an NYSAC administered test that Dillashaw failed for, not a USADA test. USADA test results tend to come in much more quickly as of late, so why did he fail a commission test but not a USADA test? In fairness, it’s possible he did fail a USADA test and we just haven’t heard because USADA doesn’t release failures until the process has played out and suspensions are official.
Dillashaw’s decision to relinquish the title suggests he is admitting fault, but his statement about “working to understand what went wrong” suggests he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong and he will be fighting this.
The other interesting wrinkle to this is what will be next for the top of the bantamweight division. There was potentially a logjam as Dillashaw and Cejudo were likely going to have a rematch at 135. Now with Dillashaw out, does Cejudo still want to move up to challenge for the bantamweight championship? The future of the flyweight division is still in limbo so that will no doubt play into this as well. Marlon Moraes and Pedro Munhoz are likely the top contenders to crown a new champion but some outliers such as John Lineker or Aljamain Sterling might be in the mix as well. Another option, rather than just book two guys in a title fight would be to set up a 4 or 8 man tournament which could allow someone like Cody Garbrandt or Dominick Cruz, once he’s ready, to sneak back into contention.