T.J. Dillashaw is no longer the UFC bantamweight champion.
On Wednesday, Dillashaw announced that he has voluntarily relinquished the 135-pound belt while also revealing that a drug test from his last fight against Henry Cejudo returned with ‘adverse’ findings, which will cost him at least a one-year suspension from the sport.
“To all my fans, I wanted to be the first one to let you know that USADA and the NYSAC have informed me of an adverse finding in a test taken for my last fight,” Dillashaw wrote on Instagram. “While words can’t even begin to express how disappointed I am at this time, please know that I’m working with my team to understand what has occurred and how to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.
“Out of fairness and respect to the rest of my division, I’ve informed the UFC that I’ll be voluntarily relinquishing my title while I deal with this matter. I want to thank all of you in advance for the support.”
Following Dillashaw’s statement the New York State Athletic Commission officially suspended him for one year and fined him $10,000 for the drug test results surrounding his last fight.
“The New York State Athletic Commission issued a one-year suspension and $10,000 fine to Mr. Dillashaw for violations relating to use of a prohibited substance. We have no further comment,” New York State Athletic Commission representatives said in a statement on Wednesday.
The suspension is retroactive to the date of the fight so Dillashaw would be eligible to return after Jan. 19, 2020.
USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) also issued a statement in response to Dillashaw's declaration that he had been flagged for a potential doping violation. USADA facilitates the UFC’s anti-doping program and it’s possible that they could suspend Dillashaw for a shorter or longer period of time than the punishment handed down by the New York State Athletic Commission.
“In light of Mr. Dillashaw’s social media post this morning, we can confirm that an in-competition test conducted by USADA on January 18, 2019 resulted in an adverse analytical finding," USADA officials said in a statement.
“In this instance, we are able to confirm the finding due to Mr. Dillashaw’s public statement. The presumption of innocence under the rules is a vital part of an effective anti-doping program and it’s only fair that Mr. Dillashaw be allowed due process before any conclusions are drawn.”
Based on that statement it appears USADA is still going through the adjudication process with Dillashaw and no punishment has been handed down yet.
The UFC has not issued any official statement regarding Dillashaw or plans for the bantamweight title now that he has relinquished his belt.
With Dillashaw out of the picture for at least the next year, it’s likely the UFC will move swiftly to book a title fight to crown a new champion.
Top ranked contender Marlon Moraes would almost certainly be the person at the top of the list to battle for the vacant bantamweight championship after he’s rattled off several wins in a row including knockouts over Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera and a submission victory against Raphael Assuncao.
It’s entirely possible flyweight champion Henry Cejudo then becomes the next candidate to fight for the vacant title after he defeated Dillashaw in just 32 seconds in their meeting in January.
As of now, no decisions have been made as Dillashaw prepares to sit out for at least one year and the bantamweight division moves on without him.