UFC bantamweight Chris Gutierrez wasn’t surprised with TJ Dillashaw popping for PEDs.
Dillashaw vacated his belt earlier this year before it came to light that he had tested positive for EPO — a banned substance that helps with an athlete’s endurance. He was later suspended for two years by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
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Before that, many felt Dillashaw was staking a claim to being the greatest bantamweight of all time. Of course, that’s now gone down the drain with the whole EPO scandal. And now that it’s happened, it’s not so much of a surprise for Gutierrez now that he reflects on everything.
“I mean, I don’t know [what I made of it at the time],” Gutierrez told The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko.
“I was like, you know, you look at TJ’s physique. It’s like, uh, look like you kind of do it. So it was just a matter of time. It is what it is. I got to roll around with TJ for a bit and I was like man, this guy is strong. Like I’m strong. I can say I’m strong for the bantamweight division. When you got some of our 155ers going, ‘shit, he’s strong,’ it’s like, something’s a little suspect.
“But overall man, he apologized. He got tore up from it. The internet roasted him and just let him have it. You know, I’m sure that is killing him itself, the guilt and losing the belt. Who am I to judge him? That’s what I was thinking the whole time. You know what? He messed up, he’s getting penalized. That’s a big punishment already. On top of that, everything else that was happening, what he does is his own business. I was just focusing on me and what I can do to get better.”
A new bantamweight king
A lot has changed since.
Flyweight champion Henry Cejudo battled Marlon Moraes for the vacant strap at UFC 238 last month. Many expected the red-hot Moraes to come away with the win and it looked like going that way after he chopped up the legs of Cejudo in the first round.
However, “The Messenger” rallied and eventually secured a comeback TKO win in the third round to become the latest simultaneous champ-champ.
“Watching the Cejudo-Moraes fight, I was like, man, Moraes is coming out strong,” Gutierrez added. “But he was coming out too strong and I was like, he’s throwing heat! I want to see how long he can keep this up.
“Cejudo was like, yeah, I’m just buying my time. He’s smart, man. He’s a smart guy. I like his tactic for that fight. He just stayed in his shell, covered up well, took some bombs and was like, okay, my turn, and TKO’d him. I think it was very impressive and now he’s a three-time champ, he’s an Olympic gold medallist and he’s a two-weight division champion. I can’t hate on him. I respect his hustle. Gives me something to look forward to, motivates me.”
Gutierrez is 1-1 in the UFC, but is coming off a unanimous decision win over Ryan MacDonald at UFC Nashville earlier this year. “El Guapo” will face Geraldo de Freitas at UFC Uruguay on August 10 next, and hopes to eventually challenge for the belt one day.
“I want to move up the ladder and I want to fight for the belt,” he explained. “More importantly, I want to be the champ. You get in this to be the greatest in the world, not to be a contender, not to be gatekeeper.”
You can watch the full interview below: