Add Dominick Cruz to the small but growing number of fighters who aren’t willing to throw T.J. Dillashaw under the bus after his positive drug test for EPO.
Dillashaw, the former two-time bantamweight champion, voluntarily relinquished his title before the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) handed him a two year suspension (retroactive Jan. 19, 2019) earlier this month.
The 33-year-old has since apologized for his misconduct but hasn’t found much sympathy from his fellow fighters.
Speaking to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani in a recent interview, Cruz, who edged out a split decision win over Dillashaw back in 2016, said he feels sorry for his ex-opponent but believes the former champ will return to the Octagon stronger than ever.
“I wouldn’t have been surprised if he did or he didn’t test [positive], to be honest,” Cruz said, per Sherdog’s Nathan Zur. “Realistically, I have no attachments to T.J. Dillashaw or his decisions. I just don’t. He chose this… I actually feel bad for him. Regardless of what I think, the world believes that there’s an asterisk next to [his career]. Same with Jon Jones. There’s an asterisk next to the story. So at this point, I think he’s going to come back. Two years really is nothing. I’ve been out longer than that injured. And he’s just going to get healthy.
“That’s all that’s going to happen,” Cruz added. “T.J. Dillashaw’s going to take two years, raise his kid. Probably be a good father to his kid which is better for his family. He’s going to heal up. Who knows what he’s going to do in his off time. Who knows how much healthier, how much better he gets, if he fills any gaps. I honestly think that when T.J. Dillashaw comes back he’s going to be better than he was when he left. Because he’s going to be rested and he’s going to have time for his family. [The suspension time is] being played out as a much bigger picture than it is. If anything it’s a gift.”
Dillashaw, who was formerly listed as a top-five pound-for-pound fighter, has been removed from the official UFC rankings and will not be eligible to compete until January 2021 at the earliest.