One of the biggest rivalries in MMA over the past few years has been TJ Dillashaw’s rivalry with his former camp Team Alpha Male and its top fighter, Cody Garbrandt.
After losing the UFC bantamweight belt to Dominick Cruz, Dillashaw spent months grinding away against top bantamweight contenders before finally getting a title shot against his arch rival Garbrandt at UFC 217.
At UFC 217, Dillashaw came out on top, knocking Garbrandt out in the second round. A little less than a year later, in the main event of UFC 227, the pair met again. On that night, Dillashaw came won even faster, knocking Garbrandt out in the very first round.
“With all the drama that’s been going on [between Garbrandt and I] for the last two years, all the accusations on me, having to deal with all the drama, I mean, obviously, that was a huge weight off my shoulders once the second fight was done,” TJ Dillashaw said on episode 100 of BJPENN.COM Radio. “[I was] anxious to do it exactly how I said I was going to, you know? I saw the openings. I knew how much better of a fighter I was. I told everyone I was gonna finish in the first round. I changed up who I was and fought him completely different.”
Fighting differently was a huge part to Dillashaw’s quick success in the second fight. In their first fight, Garbrandt knocked Dillashaw down in the first round. Having tasted his rival’s power, Dillashaw kept the pressure on him from the opening bell in the rematch, which allowed him to set up the knockout.
“To get the knockout in the first round like I called it was a great thing,” TJ Dillashaw said. “So yeah, this is everything that we knew. We knew that going into it, he’s just a great athlete. He’s fast, he hits hard. He’s a really good athlete, and he’s gotten away with that, you know? Guys have let him get away with being a great athlete. But when you get in there, and you have that fight IQ, you know the openings and you can take advantage of ’em. That’s when the fight’s different, you know?”
Since defeating Garbrandt for the second time at UFC 227, TJ Dillashaw has yet to defend the title. Dominick Cruz is hoping for the rematch, but Dillashaw is more focused on fighting Henry Cejudo for the flyweight belt.
Who do you want to see TJ Dillashaw fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/10/2018.