TJ Dillashaw spoke to Chael Sonnen in a recent interview and explained his decision to knowingly ingest EPO ahead of his UFC Brooklyn clash with Henry Cejudo.
When 2019 is through, chances are there will be no story that shocks the MMA world quite like the revelation that the decorated Bang Muay Thai fighter had tested positive for the substance EPO in the wake of his first-round TKO defeat to Henry Cejudo at UFC Brooklyn.
Dillashaw may have lost that fight, but in recent years, he was slowly starting to find his position within the UFC as one of the most talented guys on the roster.
A pair of thrilling TKO victories over Cody Garbrandt were enough to solidify his spot as the king of the 135lb division and with an eye on taking home his own piece of history, he attempted to attain dual-weight world champion status with a matchup against the flyweight champ.
Of course, the post-fight discovery is one that in all honesty may have spelt the end for TJ’s time as a true threat to the title but even if can return in impressive fashion, there is very much the feeling that his peak years are now going to go to waste.
Speaking during a recent appearance on Chael Sonnen’s You’re Welcome podcast, the former two-time bantamweight champion explained exactly why he ingested the substance that caused him to be suspended for two years.
“I decided to take something I knew I wasn’t allowed to take. It is an anemia medication that would help me not only make the weight, but be myself.
“I’m not mad I did it, because I don’t think I could have taken the fight. I’m obviously going to own up that I cheated and got caught. And it’s a rough one. It’s hard not to hate yourself a little bit. I don’t know.”
“I’m a lean 135-er, I wanted to drop to 125, and I played it off on how easy it was going to be. I can do it. No problem. I’ve always cut weight.’ And I pushed my body to the extreme.”
“My coaches that had no idea. Sam Calavitta, I wasn’t going to bring this to him. This was something I decided to do on my own. I trusted in the wrong people.
“I wanted something so bad … and the real s**t part, and again, I’m not creating an excuse – I f**ked up, I did it – is the fact that I never took my body to anything that was un-normal. I walk around about 45. The highest I ever got my hematocrit back to was 46. It wasn’t like I was above natural levels. The highest a human body can even go naturally is 50.”
Dillashaw took ownership of the failed test as soon as the news broke, issuing a lengthy statement in which he admitted to the crime he had been accused of – which in many ways, was refreshing to hear but in the time since, TJ’s reputation has understandably taken an almighty hit.
It’s hard to know exactly what the future holds for the two-time champion but with that being said, his road to redemption will be a very, very difficult one to walk.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena