It seems that reports suggesting a rematch between UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and his former teammate turned bitter rival Cody Garbrandt has been booked as the new main event of UFC 222 on March 3rd were a little premature.
It emerged earlier this evening that UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway recently sustained an injury and will be unable to defend his title against Frankie Edgar in the headline slot of the Las Vegas show as originally scheduled. At that point, ESPN journalist Brett Okamoto, who broke the news, claimed that UFC matchmakers were exploring replacement options.
However, a subsequent report from Brazilian MMA media outlet Combate claimed that the promotion had quickly convinced Dillashaw and Garbrandt to sign on for a sequel to their dramatic November shootout on just a month’s notice.
Unfortunately, though it seems the fight was indeed discussed, both Okamoto and MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani have since received word from Dillashaw’s team that no agreement is in place.
While Dillashaw’s coach Duane Ludwig told Helwani that the team are more focused on securing a mooted super-fight with UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, Dillashaw himself told Okamoto that he wasn’t willing to risk his title on just a few weeks notice. The 135-pound king also doubled down on his coach’s comments about targeting Johnson.
“It took me two years to get a title shot back, now they want me to defend it on four weeks notice? I have a five-week-old son. I’m not training. My camp is in California and I’m in Denver right now,” said Dillashaw. “And all this to face a guy who doesn’t deserve a rematch, to begin with?
“I lost a split decision to Dominick Cruz when I lost my belt, the UFC told me they thought I won that fight, and it still took me two years to get back to it. I had to wait through Cody’s back injury last year, all of The Ultimate Fighter bulls***. I told the UFC I’m doing it, I’m shooting for the DJ fight in July.”
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) February 3, 2018
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) February 3, 2018
Garbrandt wasn’t at all happy with Dillashaw’s reasoning.
“My wife will be expecting anytime during that fight week, I just started to be able to use my right hand, how many excuses do you have [T.J. Dillashaw]?” wrote the former bantamweight champion on Twitter.
While that fight no longer seems like a legitimate possibility at this point, Helwani has reported that the UFC is trying to put together a bout between Edgar and the featherweight division’s third-ranked fighter, the undefeated Brian Ortega, who is coming off a big submission win over Cub Swanson. The Canadian journalist added that the UFC is also hoping to add a title fight of some description to the card, although their options have been severely reduced by Dillashaw’s lack of interest in the Garbrandt return.