Reigning UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan put disgraced former champion T.J. Dillashaw firmly in his place after the American labeled the Russian star an “interim champion.”
Dillashaw was stripped of the UFC’s 135-pound title and suspended for two years after being found guilty of taking banned blood-booster EPO by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
That suspension is coming to an end in January 2021, and the former champion – once considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport – says he’s ready to return and take control of a division he believes doesn’t currently have a legitimate champion.
“I want that title, I want it right away,” Dillashaw told ESPN.
“You’ve got a guy, Petr Yan, who beat someone for the belt who was 0-2 in the division. Jose Aldo had two losses and he beat him for a title, so how are you calling yourself a champion. You’re an interim champion.
“Even when (Henry) Cejudo came in and won he beat (Marlon) Moraes, and Moraes was no champion. He beat a guy who wasn’t a champion to get the bantamweight belt. He’s got the cardio of a French bulldog, all he had to do was outlast him for a round and he’s able to beat him.
“He beat him, and then he beat Cruz coming off the couch and was ready to retire. Then he leaves and now Petr Yan beats a guy that’s 0-2.
“To be honest, man, the weight class is f**ked up. It’s ready for me to come back. I’m ready to be a wrench in it all and get my belt back. I will be the most dominant.”
Dillashaw’s assessment of the UFC’s bantamweight title picture didn’t go down well with the reigning champion, however.
Responding to an ESPN tweet featuring Dillashaw’s comments, Yan fired back with a short, sharp reply as he reminded the world of just why the American lost his belt in 2018.
“Wait in line, cheater.”
Wait in line, cheater https://t.co/wskArkbG05
A clash between Yan and Dillashaw seems inevitable at some point in 2021, with Dillashaw likely to be handed a top-contender fight, at worst, on his return to the UFC. Indeed, the UFC may even opt to throw him straight into a fight for the title he never lost inside the cage.
Yan will look to make the first defense of his bantamweight title when he takes on American Aljamain Sterling. The pair were originally set to face off at UFC 256, but personal reasons forced Yan out of that booking. The UFC is now looking to reschedule with a potential matchup on “UFC Fight Island” in early-2021 looking likely.