T.J. Dillashaw has been suspended by USADA for two years after testing positive for the banned substance EPO. The positive test came from a test during the run up to his UFC flyweight championship fight with Henry Cejudo. He lost that fight anyway.
Here are five things to know about Dillashaw’s suspension.
What is EPO?
EPO is the commonly used name for recombinant human erythropoietin. It is a “peptide hormone used to stimulate red blood cell production.” It is usually administered via injection.
UFC vice president Jeff Novitzky had the following to say about the positive test:
“I’m quite familiar with EPO from my days investigating professional cycling teams. It’s a very effective substance. It’s not a substance you find in contaminated supplements; it’s injectable only. You have to know what you’re doing when it enters your system.
“On a scale of seriousness in anti-doping, it’s up near the top.”
Dillashaw surrendered his bantamweight title
Dillashaw voluntarily surrendered his bantamweight title after news of the positive test broke. He initially won the title at UFC 173 in May 2014 with a win over Renan Barão. He defended it twice before losing the title to Dominick Cruz in January of 2016. Dillashaw then won it back by knocking out Cody Garbrandt at UFC 217 in November of 2017, then defended it in a rematch against Gabrandt at UFC 227 in August of 2018.
He’s a top 10 pound-for-pound fighter
No matter whose rankings you look at, Dillashaw is considered among the 10 best MMA fighters in the world. The 33-year-old boasts a 16-4 record, with eight wins by knockout and three by submission. Two of his losses have come by controversial split decisions as well.
He’s an exciting fighter, who has won five Performance of the Night bonuses, three Fight of the Night bonuses and was the runner-up of The Ultimate Fighter 14.
Cody Garbrandt accused him of using EPO in 2018
Garbrandt and Dillashaw are rivals who were actually former teammates and had two contentious battles in the octagon. In fact, in 2018, Garbrandt accused his rival of using EPO specifically:
In 2017, he accused Dillashaw of being “on everything”:
What’s next for the bantamweight division?
No one truly knows what’s next at bantamweight. The top-ranked fighters in the division are Marlon Moraes and Raphael Assunção. Moraes has won 16 of his last 17 fights, the only loss coming against Assunção in a split decision back in June of 2017. The two fought in February and Moraes won via first-round submission. I’m not sure UFC fans want to see the two battle again.
As of today, Moraes, Munhoz and Sterling are the most likely candidates to get a title shot.