Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw has retired from the company, his agent told ESPN’s Marc Raimondi on Monday.
The 36-year-old last fought at UFC 280 on Oct. 22 in a second-round TKO loss against current 135-pound titleholder Aljamain Sterling in the show’s co-main event.
Dillashaw was removed from the UFC roster on Monday. MMA journalist Ariel Helwani reported that he informed the company of his decision within the last two weeks after undergoing shoulder surgery a month ago following his loss to Sterling. During that fight, Dillashaw’s shoulder popped out of place multiple times, and he said afterward that he suffered the injury during training camp but didn’t want to pull out of the fight.
Helwani added that Dillashaw’s surgeon described the shoulder injury as “one of the worst” he’s ever seen and told him “it’s going to be a long road” in his recovery while also raising the possibility of a second surgery down the line. Dillashaw’s decision to call it a career “came as a shock” both to his agent and to the UFC.
A former collegiate wrestler, Dillashaw joined the UFC in 2011 as a competitor on the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter reality competition series. He lost in the final of the bantamweight tournament against John Dodson, but he went on to win five of his next six fights to earn a title shot against then-titleholder Renan Barao in 2014.
At the time, Barao was regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and many considered Dillashaw to be a massive underdog. However, he shockingly dominated the fight on his way to a fifth-round TKO victory to claim the 135-pound belt for the first time. He backed up the win with a fourth-round TKO in the rematch a year later.
In 2016, Dillashaw’s first title reign came to an end when he lost a close fight via split decision to Dominick Cruz. He worked his way back to a title shot against his former Team Alpha Male training partner Cody Garbrandt the following year, and he became a two-time champion with a second-round TKO. Dillashaw won the immediate rematch by first-round knockout to end the rivalry.
Dillashaw’s career wasn’t without controversy. In 2019 while attempting to become a two-weight titleholder against then-flyweight champion Henry Cejudo, he tested positive for a banned substance called EPO and was suspended for two years by USADA. He was unsuccessful against Cejudo, losing by first-round knockout.
Helwani noted that he was told Dillashaw’s retirement was not USADA-related. Dillashaw ends his career with a 17-5 record.