TJ Dillashaw is no longer the UFC bantamweight champion.
Dillashaw (17-4) announced Wednesday morning that he is "voluntarily relinquishing" the UFC's 135-pound title after he was informed by the New York State Athletic Commission and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of an "adverse finding in a test taken for my last fight." ESPN confirmed the validity of the statement via multiple sources.
The NYSAC later said in a statement that it has suspended Dillashaw for one year and fined him $10,000 "for violations relating to use of a prohibited substance." The suspension is retroactive to Jan. 19, the date of his last fight, which took place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
"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," The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency 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."
Dillashaw, 33, dropped down to flyweight in January to challenge Henry Cejudo for that belt. Dillashaw lost the fight via TKO in just 32 seconds.
Wednesday's news was disappointing for Cejudo's camp, which had hoped for him to move up in weight and challenge Dillashaw for his bantamweight title.
"This sucks. Henry wanted that rivalry/money fight and the 135-pound belt and to shut the critics up once and for all," Eric Albarracin, Cejudo's head coach, told ESPN. "It made sense. I hope it was a mistake or contamination for [Dillashaw's] sake because that's a hell of a drop from glory, from chasing the pound-for-pound status with two belts to losing it all. He has a family to support, and I wish that on no one. Can only wait to see what USADA's final determination is."
Cejudo hasn't lost a fight since a December 2016 bout against Joseph Benavidez.
"This throws a wrench in our plans," Albarracin said of Dillashaw's announcement. "It's early and I haven't spoke with Henry yet. However, if I know Henry, he still wants that belt because he is chasing a legacy, or [maybe] Joe Benavidez might get served up a cold plate of Aztec Warrior revenge. Whoever it is, be prepared for an even better version of Henry than his last outing."
Cejudo told ESPN he feels bad for Dillashaw.
"Obviously, you have your exceptions out there. Some people have been wrongly accused in the past," Cejudo said. "But people like Lance Armstrong or Marion Jones, and I've looked up to her in the past, they have to live with the regret and the dishonesty for the rest of their lives. I honestly feel bad for them.
"I want to reserve judgment, but I also want to say I never wish to fight anyone who uses PEDs again. There's no place for that in MMA. This isn't baseball or basketball. This is another human being with 4-ounce gloves hitting another human being."
Dillashaw originally won the bantamweight title at UFC 173 in May 2014 when he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history by defeating then-champion Renan Barao. Dillashaw lost the belt in January 2016, but he regained the title in November 2017 when he knocked out Cody Garbrandt at UFC 217. He successfully defended the belt in August when he defeated Garbrandt again, before setting his sights on flyweight.
Top contender Marlon Moraes told ESPN he wants to fight for the vacant title.
"That's my fight," he said. "I'm very confident UFC will pick the right opponent for me. Cejudoweight? Tell Cejudo to stay in his lane. We all saw what happened with TJ changing weight classes last time. If he is thinking about bringing his little ass up to 135, he is in big trouble."