TJ Dillashaw intends to reclaim his UFC bantamweight championship at some point, although he’s likely to be out another year due to shoulder surgery.
Dillashaw, 36, told ESPN on Wednesday he will undergo surgery on his left shoulder, which was dislocated in the first round of a title fight against Aljamain Sterling last weekend at UFC 280. Dillashaw’s team managed to get the shoulder back in its socket between the first and second rounds, but he came out in the second and he lost via TKO.
For Dillashaw, this will be his third shoulder surgery since 2019 and the second on his left shoulder.
“Another year,” Dillashaw said of a likely timeline for his return. “Nine months until I can start training hard and hard and then make sure everything is healed. I’ve already had surgery on my shoulder and I’d say another year, maybe, to compete. Either a year to compete or a year to go back to training camp.”
Dillashaw (17-5) has fought only three times since 2019 due to a two-year suspension for failing a drug test and injury. He has drawn some criticism in recent days, after revealing his shoulder dislocated several times in the build-up to his loss to Sterling.
On Wednesday, Dillashaw told ESPN he should have clarified that his shoulder had dislocated at camp, but never to the point where he was unable to put it back in place himself. He said he had actually been in previous fights under similar circumstances, but admitted he was in slightly worse condition for this one.
“I’ve done this before at many other fight camps,” Dillashaw said. “I spoke to the ref beforehand, and that shoulder was worse than when I fought [Cody Garbrandt in 2017 and 2018], but it was something that I dealt with. I said [the referee] not to stop the fight because I would put him back in his socket. I expected to pick it up while I was fighting.”
Immediately after Dillashaw’s loss, UFC President Dana White said the UFC was unaware of the injury and added, “It’s something he should have told us.” .
Dillashaw said the injury worsened over the last three weeks of his camp, when it would have been more difficult to pull out of the fight. He said he still entered Saturday’s contest with full confidence that he would win.
Dillashaw does not yet have a date for the surgery but is expected to undergo the procedure next month.