T.J. Dillashaw has a simple explanation for why his longtime rival Dominick Cruz has been questioning his title challenger qualifications: Envy.
Cruz recently appeared on The MMA Hour where he compared Dillashaw being the front-runner to fight UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling to “a hook-up.” Dillashaw was stripped of his UFC title and suspended from competition for two years after testing positive for a banned substance in January 2019. He returned to competition in July of last year and defeated Cory Sandhagen via a narrow split decision, a result that wasn’t enough to make him the No. 1 contender again in Cruz’s eyes.
“He was suspended for cheating, so to get a shot after one win, OK, cool,” Cruz said. “Sounds like a hook-up to me. He got two years off, didn’t really lose any money and then just gets right back up in [the title picture].”
Told of Cruz’s comments, Dillashaw offered a fiery response during an interview with Submission Radio.
“He sounds like a salty c***, to be honest,” Dillashaw said (transcription via Denis Shkuratov). “I just think he’s obviously jealous of me being able to stay in the top with my layoff, and how long I’ve been in the sport and me still being able to come back and prove that I’m still the best. I did lose money. Me not fighting for two years while being a champion is a lot of money out of my pocket. [If I keep] racking in the wins, getting title defenses, I mean, we’re talking about millions and millions of dollars that I let slip through my fingers because I made a f****** stupid mistake.
“So yeah, I paid my time, I came back and f****** grinded to get that win on f****** one leg and one eye, and there’s nothing you can do to deny me that it’s my shot. So like I said, he’s just being salty, and that’s kind of his personality anyways. He’s kind of an unlikable dude. I mean, I’ve always respected him and I think he’s got a good eye for stuff, but he’s got like this chip on his shoulder where he feels like everything’s owed to him, and he’s just always complaining about s***.”
Dillashaw and Cruz previously fought in the main event of UFC Boston in January 2016, with Cruz regaining the bantamweight title via split decision. A second fight between the two never materialized, as Cruz went on to win a trilogy bout with rival Urijah Faber before dropping the belt to former Dillashaw teammate and future opponent Cody Garbrandt.
At the moment, Dillashaw could not care less about facing Cruz again.
“I’ve got bigger fish to fry, to be honest,” Dillashaw said. “All the chips are kind of lining up, I get my belt back, [Henry] Cejudo is saying he’s coming back. You’ve got Jose Aldo. I think there’s a lot more dangerous and notable guys to fight.”
Whenever Dillashaw’s next fight is booked, it will likely take place over a year since his last appearance, as he has been on the shelf recovering from injuries sustained in the fight with Sandhagen. He was initially optimistic that he could return to competition sooner, but the reality is that the 36-year-old had to undergo a lengthy recovery process before being cleared to fight again.
“I wish it was only three months, that s*** was crazy,” Dillashaw said. “It was a long recovery. I tore every ligament in my knee besides my ACL. If I’m gonna do something, I’m gonna do it right. I think I was just being optimistic with saying three months. It wasn’t like I was thinking, ‘Oh, I didn’t tear my ACL, I’m good’. But actually I had to have two surgeries done on my knee to get to where I’m at now. But the road has been great, and it all worked out timing-wise. So, feeling good, and recovery’s great.”
“I just beat a No. 1 contender fight, which I actually think is a more dangerous guy, on one leg,” Dillashaw added. “So, I could f****** beat this chump [Sterling] coming up soon on one leg as well. I’m not too worried about him. I think Cory Sandhagen is actually a tougher fight. And if he had a little more well-roundedness, he’d be even further along. But I just feel that nothing’s gonna hold me back from getting my belt, no matter what it is. If I gotta go in there and fight with one arm, one leg, one eye. It don’t matter.”
Watch Dillashaw’s full interview with Submission Radio here:
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