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Still-recuperating TJ Dillashaw has no timeline for UFC return — ‘I’ve got time’

Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw promised a speedy recovery followed by an early return to MMA after blowing out his knee during his split-decision victory over Cory Sandhagen at the UFC Vegas 32 event last July in “Sin City.”

Not happening.

“Actually, taking longer than I hoped to get to full recovery,” Dillashaw told ESPN (transcribed by Matthew Wells). “It’s on track, though. I just didn’t realize how much work I was going to have to get done. I didn’t realize how beat up my knee was. I knew what I tore and things like that, and after I watched the video on what the doctor actually did, I messed it up really bad, especially that meniscus and stuff.”

Dillashaw (17-4) is currently ranked No. 2 at 135 pounds and could be first in line for the next bantamweight title shot, assuming we have a decisive finish in the UFC 273 co-main event, where Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan run it back for a chance to unify the division titles.

“I haven’t even gotten into full training yet,” Dillashaw continued. “I’m able to hit mitts. I’ve been doing a lot of strength and conditioning. I haven’t done any kind of grappling whatsoever, that’s probably the last thing that I’ll feel comfortable doing. First, I have to make sure everything holds up and then think about getting into a camp. So no exact timelines, but the way my weight class is right now, I’ve got time.”

Dillashaw, who turns 36 in just a few days, returned from a two-year drug suspension to squeak by Sandhagen and re-establish his place among the 135-pound elite. That said, his title shot could be put on hold until he rids himself of this top-ranked contender.

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