In May of 2014, an unsung TJ Dillashaw shocked the world by dominating the seemingly unbeatable Renan Barao to win the UFC bantamweight title. From there, he extended his reign with a defeat of Joe Soto, and a dominant victory in a rematch with Barao.
Unfortunately for Dillashaw and his fans, he then collided with returning former champion Dominick Cruz, who stands out as not only the greatest bantamweight in MMA history, but one of the greatest fighters in MMA history period. Though Dillashaw made the fight extremely competitive, he ultimately lost a split decision to Cruz, surrendering his title in the process.
Since that loss, the former champion rebounded nicely with a dominant decision defeat of Raphael Assuncao, one of the division’s best fighters, and a man he’d lost to previously. With this win, all signs pointed to a rematch between Dillashaw and Cruz. Dillashaw then did his best to increase the likelihood of this rematch by betting Cruz $100,000 that he’d emerge the victor if they fought again.
In the end, however, the next crack at Cruz’s title was awarded to undefeated striker Cody Garbrandt, who earned the honor with a string of violent knockout wins and a hell of a lot of Cruz-targeted trash talk. The two will co-headline UFC 207 this December 30.
The booking of Cruz vs. Garbrandt, of course, left Dillashaw out in the cold. Luckily, the UFC was able to give him a pretty solid consolation prize in John Lineker, who has racked up a solid four-fight streak since joining the bantamweight division in September of 2015. Like Cruz and Garbrandt, the two will meet at UFC 207.
In advance of this showdown, Dillashaw is unsurprisingly training extremely hard, knowing full well that an impressive win will probably earn him a shot at the Cruz vs. Garbrandt winner. If the Instagram video at the top of this post is any indication, his training has been extremely fruitful. The former champion is looking as deadly as ever – which means Lineker is likely to have his hands full this December.
Who do you think comes out on top when Dillashaw and Lineker go at it at UFC 207? Sound off, PENN Nation!