2 years is the amount of time TJ Dillashaw had to sit out from competing inside the Octagon. The UFC bantamweight Champion had been caught by USADA for being on recombinant human erythropoietin AKA EPO. Now with his suspension served, Dillashaw has a big target on his back.
[PHOTO COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES]
A win over the former king would put anyone in the talks of title contention. Top contenders, Rob Font and Corey Sandhagen are among those few to target a fight with Dillashaw, along with former teammate and rival, Cody Garbrandt, who’s been waiting for the chance to even the score.
Ever since getting a trio of TKO losses (2 of them courtesy of Dillashaw), we have seen the tactical Cody Garbrandt of old step back into the bantamweight division. “No Love” left 2020 with a decapitation of Raphael Assuncao with no time left on the clock, entering himself as a KO of the Year candidate.
A few months later, Garbrandt would attempt to steal Flyweight gold, something Dillashaw could not pull off, in his drop in weight. However, COVID-19 stalled Garbrandt’s dreams of being a dual-weight world champion ahead of his scheduled headliner against Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 256.
Garbrandt has missed the window of opportunity for 125 gold… for now at least, with Figueiredo looking to rematch Brandon Moreno later this year.
Lately, Garbrandt has been seen campaigning for a fight with Brazilian legend, Jose Aldo. This came about after Aldo’s amazing decision win over ‘Chito’ Vera in December. The Team Alpha Male standout targets a fight with Aldo for a date in April.
Alongside wanting to fight the former featherweight kingpin, also comes the dream of redeeming himself against his rival, TJ Dillashaw. While having lost to Dillashaw in 2017 and 2018, a rejuvenated Garbrandt seeks the trilogy after all of these years.
“TJ can be on that stuff [steroids] and he still can’t beat me when I’m focused and I’m mentally there.” said Garbrandt on the Joe Rogan Experience. “I’m excited, I’m glad that he’s coming back. He’s got to prove to himself. That’s a big fight for me to come back to in the future. It’s going to happen.”
“I feel like TJ caught me at a time where mentally I was not in the best state of mind. To go in there and be a champion, that’s why it was taken from me. I wasn’t doing the right things, the slight edge things. I wasn’t doing those and he capitalized. I look back on it, I kept going back in those fights and [had] a little bit of insanity. You got to be insane to repeat the same thing a different outcome. That’s what I was doing in there.”
Having immersed himself with the mistakes he made in those duo of lessons, Garbrandt has picked himself back up.
“I’m thankful for that.” Garbrandt continued. “I have to be like if I would have went off and defending the title and I probably wouldn’t have been as hungry and motivated as I am today and that’s going to help me out for the next five years of my career. However long I want to fight for.”