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Former UFC champion T.J. Dillashaw says two-year absence ‘somewhat of a blessing’

UFC Fight Night: Cejudo v Dillashaw Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw is on the slow track back to the Octagon as he serves a two-year suspension for failing a drug test after his 32-second loss to Henry Cejudo earlier this year.

Dillashaw, 33, was the 135-pound king before relinquishing his championship title back in March after popping for EPO. He had racked off back-to-back title wins over rival Cody Garbrandt and seemed set up for a prolonged stay atop the throne. That was before Dillashaw tried to cheat the system and was ultimately forced into hiding.

While a two-year absence seems like the worst case scenario for a championship athlete in his prime, Dillashaw has actually enjoyed the time off. Instead of training for five-round title fights against the baddest bantamweights (and flyweights) on the planet, the UFC veteran has been able to focus on some of his business ventures outside of the cage.

“This suspension has been somewhat of a blessing,” TJ Dillashaw told theScore. “Obviously it’s a real shitty situation. [But] you’ve got to turn a negative into a positive as best you can. I’ve really got to focus on my business side of things. I have a cold press juice company that I’m opening here in Yorba Linda. I’m actually becoming the area developer for all of Southern California, which is a real big deal. We plan on opening 63 stores in Southern California. I have some other projects in the works where I’m a silent (partner) in.”

Dillashaw, who is eligible to return in January 2021, still has a fire burning inside of him to come back and regain his status as one of the best fighters in the world. But even though the former champ wants to get sweet revenge on Cejudo, he’s content with spending time with his growing family and putting everything into perspective.

“I’ve also got a one-and-a-half-year-old son that I’ve got to spend a lot of time with,” Dillashaw said. “That first year of his life, I didn’t get to put in as much time as I wanted to because I was so busy worrying about the next fight So it’s been a good distraction for me.”

With more than a year to plot his momentous return to the Octagon Dillashaw will have plenty of time to elevate his game and fix any issues he had before his suspension. But considering Dillashaw had only lost to Dominick Cruz and Raphael Assuncao via split decision throughout his UFC bantamweight career, his time off will be more about doing the right things with his body and letting his skill do the talking.