Dillashaw aiming for mid-2022 return, wants title shot

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Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw is planning to return to the Octagon around the halfway mark of 2022 - and he wants his next fight to be for the title.

Dillashaw told ESPN's Brett Okamoto that his recovery from a knee injury suffered in his fight with Cory Sandhagen last July has taken longer than anticipated.

Dillashaw, who tore his PCL and damaged his meniscus in the split-decision victory, said he didn't initially understand the severity of the injury. Dillashaw has yet to resume full-time training.

"I don't want to set myself back," Dillashaw said. "I can't be in a rush to get in there because I'll hurt myself again."

The 35-year-old said he originally thought he would be ready to fight by the first quarter of the year.

The win over Sandhagen marked Dillashaw's return from a two-year USADA suspension. He tested positive for EPO following a loss to Henry Cejudo in January 2019 and was forced to relinquish the bantamweight title as a result.

Dillashaw, ranked No. 2 in the division, said he wants to fight the winner of the Aljamain Sterling versus Petr Yan title unification rematch, which is reportedly set for April.

"Let's be honest, I left as a champion," Dillashaw said. "I came back and fought their No. 1 contender off a two-and-a-half-year layoff. And I was able to beat him. So, what else is there for me?

"The only thing that is going to get me up out of bed and get me excited is getting my belt back. That's what's going to get me nervous. And that's my goal. There's nothing else to really set my eyes on other than that."

Some fans have talked about Dillashaw possibly facing Jose Aldo while Sterling and Yan settle their business, and Aldo has expressed interest in that matchup. While Dillashaw sees the fight happening at some point, he believes the timing is currently off.

"We'll have our time," Dillashaw said. "(Aldo) keeps doing what he's doing. I'm going to get my belt back. And then it'd be really amazing (to fight him)."

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Dillashaw aiming for mid-2022 return, wants title shot
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