UFC president Dana White says he is not ruling out an immediate title shot for former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw.
Dillashaw is set to return from his two-year suspension by USADA in January 2019 for performance-enhancing drugs. The former bantamweight kingpin recently shared photos of his current physique, and he looks like he’s ready to come back and dominate. Considering he’s a big name in the division and a former champion, we’ve seen fighters such as Jose Aldo and Rob Font call him out. They are both top-10 opponents, but it’s possible Dillashaw is chasing after even bigger fish.
Speaking to ESPN, White said that he isn’t ruling out giving Dillashaw a title shot in his comeback. Instead of outright saying no to an immediate title shot, White said the promotion still needs to talk to Dillashaw about what he wants to do next.
“We gotta talk to him about that. He would know the answer to that question better than we would,” White said.
The fact White didn’t immediately rule out the possibility of a title shot is likely to irk some of the other fighters in the bantamweight division, who have been working and grinding and testing clean while Dillashaw has been serving his suspension. But we all know it’s a business and perhaps White is looking at Dillashaw as a big draw.
Dillashaw has not fought in nearly two years, so he will have quite a layoff coming into his next fight, regardless of who that is against. Right now, UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan is targeted to fight Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259 in March, so Dillashaw could theoretically wait for the winner of that fight and step back into the Octagon next summer or fall. That does seem like a long time away, so perhaps he will tell the UFC he wants a fight against a contender such as Aldo or Font instead.
Of course, the other thing that Dillashaw could do is move back down to flyweight, where his last fight took place. He could potentially fight for the belt, but only after UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno settle the score in their rematch in April or May. So perhaps Dillashaw will make a U-turn and consider a fight at 125lbs. It will certainly be interesting to hear how his meeting with White goes, but ultimately, White and the UFC execs get the final say on his opponent.
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