TJ Dillashaw explains why he believes his fight with Demetrious Johnson will still happen in the future, but also why he had no part in it being delayed.
Super-fights, regardless of their detractors, remain a truly special thing to behold in MMA. Conor McGregor’s lightweight title-winning bout against Eddie Alvarez was among the most amazing spectacles we’ve seen in the sport for some time and with the UFC 226 pairing of Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, two of the promotion’s weakest divisions will come together for a showdown that will give one man’s argument on the P4P rankings some serious weight.
The man who does occupy the top spot, Demetrious Johnson, has been linked to a matchup against the bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw for quite some time now but after being booked to face Henry Cejudo at UFC 227 – a card that also features TJ’s rematch against Cody Garbrandt – fans will have to wait a little longer to see Mighty Mouse test himself against the bigger man in the 135lb kingpin.
Speaking during a media lunch promoting UFC 227, Dillashaw made it clear that he has been vying to get a shot at DJ for some time now and when asked about why the fight never happened, he mused on the possible reasons for the flyweight champ’s hesitance.
“I don’t really know. I think that’s a good question for Demetrious Johnson. Maybe he wanted some guaranteed money. Maybe he wasn’t willing to gamble on himself on the pay-per-view numbers. But as far as I was concerned, the fans wanted it, the UFC wanted it.
“Everyone knows I wanted it. I respect Demetrious Johnson as a person and as an athlete and that’s kind of why I was chasing him down. He’s got that target on his back. He’s got that pound-for-pound spot that I want to come in and take.
“Not only to make the big bucks on a big fight, but for the legacy. Chasing that spot down. So really I think it’s a question for him why it didn’t really happen.
“He’s got that spot and I’m looking to take it. Our fight is ahead of us that we gotta worry about. And we’ll talk about it after the fight.
“I would love to do it at 125lbs, because I don’t want the excuse of me being the bigger man. Oh, the only reason why he beat me is because he’s bigger than me.’ I can make your weight, I’m not bigger than you.”
Of course, getting around the challenge that Cody Garbrandt presents to TJ will obviously be his primary concern right now. Although he managed to pick up the second-TKO in their first meeting, the power of ‘No Love’ was enough to drop the current champ in the first-round and had he not been saved by the bell after that exchange, who knows how things could have turned out.
With both men now set to appear on UFC 227 on August 4, the pieces could well fall into place should Dillashaw defeat Garbrandt and Johnson overcome Cejudo. It’s a pair of title rematch in the two lightest divisions on the roster and if we know the UFC like we think we do, they could well hatch a plan in the show’s immediate aftermath to set up a super-fight between the main and co-main event winners.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena