That he provided so few details will undoubtedly make people wonder if both combatants have actually agreed to the contest, but Dana White told the assembled media at the UFC 218 post-fight presser that the mooted super-fight between flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw is “going to happen.”
The UFC president tried to make the fight earlier this year after then bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt withdrew from a scheduled July date with Dillashaw though injury and left his former teammate turned bitter rival at a loose end. Dillashaw was all for dropping down to flyweight to challenge Johnson, but much to the chagrin of White, ‘Mighty Mouse’ turned the fight down. In a subsequent rant on an episode of UFC Unfiltered, White branded Johnson’s decision “insanity.”
Johnson, however, stood by his decision and in a lengthy online statement explained that he was worried Dillashaw wouldn’t make weight, that he was unhappy with the terms offered to him by the UFC and that he felt the promotion was attempting to bully him into taking the bout under less than ideal circumstances.
Johnson went on to beat Ray Borg in sensational fashion in October to break the record for most UFC title defences and Dillashaw subsequently reclaimed the bantamweight strap with a stoppage win over Garbrandt at the beginning of November, making a Johnson – Dillashaw clash an even juicier proposition.
Johnson, however, has consistently stated that he will need a guaranteed multi-million-dollar payday to take any super-fight and White recently dismissed the idea that the promotion would be willing to grant such a demand.
“He’s a partner in the pay-per-view,” White said shortly after Dillashaw beat Garbrandt at UFC 217. “Let’s see what your pay-per-view does. You’re a partner. Let’s see what you make.”
“Listen, you can’t be in a position where you’re like, ‘I want $2 million, (Expletive) you, I don’t care what you make. I don’t care how much this thing sells. I just want $2 million.’ Go tell your boss you want $2 million. You don’t give a (expletive) what it costs him. See what he says(via MMAJunkie).”
With the promotion and Johnson seemingly at odds, the fight seemed a long way off last month.
However, White was staunch and insistent when he was asked about the fight on Saturday night.
“That fight’s going to happen,” he said. “Yeah, that fight will happen”
“That fight’s going to happen,” he reiterated when asked if he was “100%” on that point. “We didn’t announce it yet,” added the president when asked about a date.
Interestingly, a report from the always reliable MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani was quite contradictory and suggests that White’s confidence might be a front.
I’m told the fight is nowhere near done. They want it but no closer to done than it was the night of UFC 217 when Dillashaw won. https://t.co/j5nsese96e
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 3, 2017
Let’s hope the fight does happen, as it’s one of the absolute best that can be made in the entire sport. But let’s also hope that Johnson’s demands are met first, because he deserves a big payday.