T.J. Dillashaw outlines early 2022 timeline for UFC bantamweight title challenge

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari – Zuffa LLC

Former two-time UFC bantamweight champion, T.J. Dillashaw has earmarked an early return to action in 2022 following recent surgery to repair a bucket handle tear of his meniscus and a ruptured LCL in his left knee, as well as a PCL tear. And has sights set on reclaiming the bantamweight throne in his return, despite a recent call out from former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo.

Dillashaw, who returned from a two-year retroactive USADA suspension last month — headlined UFC Vegas 32 in a rebooked main event against the #2 ranked contender, Cory Sandhagen. Battling with the Aurora native for five rounds, Dillashaw narrowly scored a close split judging victory — lodging his first victory since a UFC 227 bantamweight title defence against two-time opponent, Cody Garbrandt back in August 2018.

Involved in a rather dicey kneebar attempt before the close of the opening round, Dillashaw appeared to have suffered a knee injury during the exchange. And in a statement following the bout, Dillashaw, who was pictured on crutches, confirmed that he had suffered a bucket handle meniscus tear and a lateral collateral ligament rupture, and a PCL tear in his left knee — sidelining him for a period of three months.

I just had surgery on Thursday,” Dillashaw said during a recent fight companion for UFC 265 with former UFC heavyweight contender, Brendan Schaub. “I had a medial meniscus bucket handle tear, a lateral meniscus tear, and a PCL tear. Almost everything. I’m just glad it wasn’t ACL. I actually am happy with the results, [because] it would’ve been nine months [of recovery for an ACL tear]. I’m looking at a three-month recovery right now until I can get back to good training, fight for the title at the beginning of next year.

Breaking down the extent as well the cause of the injury, Dillashaw claimed that ill-positioned ground-strike attempts leg to the contusion.

I was in, like, a lazy leglock,” Dillashaw explained. “We were in the 50/50 position, I was completely out of it, but I was just kind of chilling. I knew I won the round, so I was like f*ck it, I’m just going to sit on top, let the round finish out. But then he (Cory Sandhagen) turned and started trying to punch me, so I was like, ‘Alright, bitch,’ so I came back for my own ground-and-pound, right? So I came in hard on my own leg and started ground-and-pounding, and he didn’t get me from the leglock. It was when we got into a scramble and he tried to get back to his feet, and I tried standing on top, so I leaned my chest over my body, and at the same time, my knees — my LCL just went, ‘pop’.” 

It was loud, dude,” Dillashaw said. “Like, I’m super surprised he didn’t hear it or feel it because I know I even heard it when it happened. So I knew that I was [hurt]. As soon as the round was over, I limped back to my corner and I sat down and I was like, ‘Dude, my knee is f*cked.’ Instantly, that was the first thing I said. They (the UFC) bleeped it out on TV because It’s ESPN and I said f*ck.” (H/T MMA Fighting)

Whilst Dillashaw has earmarked the turn of next year for a challenge at bantamweight gold ahead of October’s UFC 267 rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan — the Angels Camp veteran was the subject of a recent call out from Aldo following the Brazilian’s impressive unanimous decision win over Pedro Munhoz at UFC 265 on Saturday.

It would be great for me to fight with (T.J.) Dillashaw,” Aldo said during his post-fight press conference. “Hopefully by December, I think it would be a great fight. That’s what we expect. That’s what I’m expecting right now.


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