2019 was not a good year for T.J. Dillashaw. Not only did he begin the year with a first-round TKO loss to Henry Cejudo, he also tested positive for EPO, forcing him the relinquish the UFC bantamweight title and sit out for two years.
On Monday’s episode of the Ariel Helwani MMA Show, Dillashaw spoke in detail about what urged him to take the banned substance.
“I took an anemia medication called Procrit, which the main ingredient in it was Erythropoietin (EPO),” he explained (transcript by MMA Mania). “It helps rebuild blood cells. When you become anemic, your red blood cells start to plummet and you lose energy. I was on a super strict 1600-calorie day diet and working too hard. I pushed my body to extreme limits.”
Dillashaw claims that his struggles to make the 125-pound limit against Cejudo also contributed to his decision.
“I was getting down to that bare minimum weight where everything was affecting me,” he said. “I didn’t want to wake up and train in the morning. I had to lose a bunch more weight and I didn’t want to go to the gym, I didn’t want to run and didn’t want to do what I had to do.
“I got drug tested and I decided I would be able to be clear until the fight, then I f—d up and made that decision. Like I said, I wanted to make it to the fight, I wanted to do something that was unheard of and I let it get the best of me.”
Ultimately, he says it was a decision he greatly regrets to this day.
“No excuses. I made the mistake of wanting to do something that hadn’t been done,” Dillashaw said. “I sold my soul to the devil and now I got to build myself back up and deal with it.”
Dillashaw’s former teammate Cody Garbrandt had constantly accused him of PED use for years, specifically bringing up EPO, which he eventually tested positive for.
His last title defense as the 135-pound champion took place at UFC 227 in August 2018, where he defeated Garbrandt via TKO. The title now belongs to the two-division champion in Cejudo, who won it via third-round TKO against Marlon Moraes at UFC 238 last June.