It turns out that defeating a bitter rival and regaining a championship just isn’t enough for T.J. Dillashaw.
After defeating Cody Garbrandt via TKO in the co-main event of the stellar UFC 217 card, Dillashaw immediately called out UFC Flyweight Champion, Demetrious Johnson. “Demetrious Johnson, I’m coming for you, I’m going to break you,” Dillashaw said in his Octagon interview with Joe Rogan. “You’ve got that record and it’s fake. You know it. You should’ve been fighting me, you dodged me. I’m coming for you, I’m getting that belt, I’m coming to ’25 and I’m stopping your record.”
While Dillashaw may have been on a high after a stunning victory, it seems that the two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion wasn’t just talking the talk – now, he wants to walk the walk. Demetrious Johnson is currently ranked #1 in UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings and he holds the record for the most consecutive title defences – 11, to be precise. The flyweight king will not prove to be an easy fight, but Dillashaw is determined to make it happen and give Johnson the ‘money fight’ that he’s been searching for.
“He wants a big money fight. He wants to prove that he’s the pound-for-pound king. This is the step.” Dillashaw said on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “I can make the weight. I wanted to stop him from breaking the record and he wanted to break it first, so he got that out of the way, he got to do what he wanted to do and he beat the record books. But now it’s time to man up and get this fight going. This is a fight that fans want to see. I keep hearing them say it and everyone’s loving it, so let’s get this done. There’s no reason to be scared now, you got to break the record.”
“He came by when I was taking photos with the belt and he said that I did the first step so, in my mind, that’s him saying, ‘Let’s get this on.’ I did the first step because he said to the media that I wasn’t worthy of a title shot, that I needed to be a champion, that he wasn’t going to fight me because I wasn’t a champion. And he came by and said that I did the first step, so I think in his mind too, this is the fight that makes sense.”
T.J. Dillashaw originally lost the bantamweight title in a contentious split decision loss to Dominick Cruz back in 2016. While Cruz went on to defend the belt against Urijah Faber and ultimately lose the belt to Cody Garbrandt, Dillashaw had to wait almost two years for another shot at the title. Now, he looks to return the favour to his old adversary and keep him waiting.
“Cruz can suck it, man,” Dillashaw said. “He’s the one who made me wait forever. He knew he should’ve given me that rematch. He was scared. He thought he was cherry-picking by picking Cody. He was trying to hold onto that belt, get as much as he could. So if it’s up to me, he can wait. He can wait as long as I did. I couldn’t care less. I mean, I do want to beat that guy. I do want to smash because I know that I can, but I don’t care what he says. I’m going for the fight that makes the most sense for me right now, and that’s Demetrious Johnson, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it.”