T.J. Dillashaw recently requested a shot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight title upon returning from a two-year suspension. It was a bold move on many fronts, especially since he was put on ice for testing positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), a banned performance enhancer that Dillashaw openly admitted to taking.
And while he never lost his 135-pound strap, he is coming off a knockout loss to former Flyweight champion, Henry Cejudo, in a 125-pound title fight. Still, despite having those two big strikes against him, “Viper” feels he’s the real champion and deserves the chance to fight for the title again in his first fight back.
Meanwhile, the 135-pound division has been chugging along without Dillashaw, as the weight class has a new champion in the form of Petr Yan, and new contenders such as Rob Font, Aljamain Sterling and Cory Sandhagen, as well as top contenders Cody Garbrandt and Frankie Edgar.
As far as Sandhagen is concerned, Dillashaw needs to win at least one fight to get back into the championship mix, saying if anyone deserves the next title fight it should be him if he can get a win over Edgar.
“I think it’s got to be a title shot, if it makes sense in my head,” Sandhagen told SCMP MMA (via Middle Easy). “That’s why I took the fight more than anything. I think if I beat Frankie and I keep myself busy, and I don’t play this game of ‘Oh I’m the number two guy so I deserve it after that.’ I’m not going to play that game with the UFC.
“I wanted to stay busy, I wanted a big name, I wanted someone that is good, and Edgar’s it I think T.J. definitely needs a win over one of these top guys too, before he comes back and fights for a belt,” Sandhagen added. “I heard him say he’s playing the financially secure card, and ‘I’ll wait for a title shot,’ this and that. We’ve been putting in work while you’ve been gone. So that would kind of be a bummer if they just gave it to him.”
Indeed, since Dillashaw has been suspended Sandhagen has earned a 3-1 mark inside the Octagon, with his lone loss coming against No. 1 contender, Aljamain Sterling. Since Yan and Sterling are likely to settle their business in a title fight later this year, that leaves Dillashaw with another extended wait if he opts to campaign for a shot at the title. He can always stay busy by facing either Jose Aldo or Rob Font.
As far as Sandhagen goes, he is in line to take on one of his biggest challenges to date against Edgar at an upcoming UFC Fight Night event on Feb. 6, 2021.