Former UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw Has Revealed Why He Cheated And How He Feels About it Now… Sorry, Not Sorry…

The dramatic collapse of TJ Dillashaw was one of the most remarkable MMA stories of 2019. Before he fought and lost a flyweight title challenge to Henry Cejudo, this year looked like being his year. He had brutally knocked out arch-nemesis Cody Garbrandt again and was striding towards a second championship belt.

But no, tests after the Cejudo fight revealed traces of EPO were in his system during the fight. As performance-enhancing drugs go, EPO is one of the most clearcut: it raises your endurance levels. For an MMA fighter, this is absolutely taboo because if one person gets tired in the final round and the other doesn’t, well there’s obviously a clear advantage isn’t there?

It later emerged that USADA doesn’t always test for EPO and that Dillashaw got caught out by a random test. Now he’s currently on the sidelines serving a two-year suspension. He finally opened up to Chael Sonnen about why he took the PED.

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TJ insists that he has not made any excuses for what he did. He attracted the ire of the MMA world – and especially former rival Cody Garbrandt. Now he has to deal with the consequences, losing two years of his career in its prime. Understandably, he hasn’t been keen to talk to media before this point. He revealed to Sonnen on his Your Welcome podcast:

“I’ve hidden out, I haven’t done any interviews, I haven’t done – I’ve just kind of hidden away from – there’s things I’ve been wanting to say, but I didn’t, because I don’t want to create any excuses. Let’s start off, first and foremost, I cheated. I don’t want to run around that, that’s why even I announced it when USADA was coming out. I didn’t want to create excuses.

August 4, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; TJ Dillashaw lands hits against Cody Garbrandt during UFC 227 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports.


Much was made of the severity of the weight-cut that Dillashaw would have to make to get down to 125lbs. It turned out that it was much more of an issue than his camp made out in public. Dillashaw made out in public that he was basically being a test dummy for sports science, but it turns out it wouldn’t work without cheating too. He said:

“It was like, look, this is it, I did it, I want to be upfront with you guys. I didn’t want to create any excuses of why I did it, I knew eventually I would talk about it, and this is now, it’s the first time I have. I was so into doing something that has never been done before. Not the two champs. Obviously, I wanted that more than anything, I wanted to prove I’m the best in the world, but was also to drop that weight class. I’m a lean 135’er. I wanted to drop the weight class to go to the 125s, and I played it off to how easy it was going to be. ‘I can do this, no problem, I always cut weight.’

“And I pushed my body to the extreme. About six weeks out, my body started to crash, I started to get tired, I started feeling I didn’t want to wake up for practice. I test everything. I test my hair for toxins, I test my saliva for hormone levels – I want to be the most optimized athlete I possibly can. And I started crashing.”

Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Cody Garbrandt (red gloves) fights against T.J. Dillashaw (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports.


Basically, Dillashaw isn’t sorry that he cheated, he’s sorry that he got caught. He revealed that he was obsessed with being the most optimized athlete possible, raising questions about how an obsession with sports science can affect you. He continued:

“I decided to take something I knew I wasn’t allowed to take. It’s called Procrit, it’s an anemia medication that would help me, not only make the weight, but be myself. And, you know, I’m not mad I did it, because I don’t think I could’ve taken the fight. I’m obviously going to own up that I cheated, I got caught – it’s a rough one man. It’s hard not to hate yourself a little bit. To – I don’t know. It’s a tough one.”

How about just don’t cheat?

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