In January of this year, TJ Dillashaw lost the UFC bantamweight title to long-absent former champion Dominick Cruz in a razor-close, five-round war. Given the competitive nature of the bout, many expected the two to be booked for an immediate championship rematch.
This is not the way things went down. Instead, Cruz went on to successfully defend his title against long-time contender Urijah Faber, while Dillashaw returned to defeat Raphael Assuncao at 200.
Now that they’re both one win removed from their competitive title fight, Dillashaw believes the time has come for a rematch. Cruz, however, seems to be angling for a fight with rising star Cody Garbrandt – and Dillashaw believes that’s because he’s scared.
“As soon as Cruz was calling out Faber and didn’t want to fight me, I understood [what was happening],” Dillashaw said on the latest episode of Submission Radio. “Then as soon as that fight was over Cruz was talking about how he wants to do a super fight against [Jose] Aldo. Well Aldo wants McGregor so that isn’t going to happen. Then he was saying he wants a super fight against Demetrious [Johnson], but Demetrious was hurt and already had a fight lined up so he couldn’t do that either. So if he couldn’t run away from the weight class and not fight me, what’s he going to do? Jump to number 8? Fight the number 8 ranked guy instead of fighting the guy he should fight? He just doesn’t want to fight me man, he knows how tough that first fight was, he knows that I have a legitimate chance at kicking his ass, and he just doesn’t want that to happen.”
“He’s going to do as much trash talk as he can to sort of entice people about this Garbrandt fight so that he can try to stay on top, cause he knows he’ll pick Garbrandt apart,” Dillashaw said. “That guy’s a little bit too flat footed for Cruz. Cruz knows what he’s doing, he’s smart. He gets under people’s skin; he picks the fights that he wants.”
While Dillashaw did admit that he’s worried this Cruz vs. Garbrandt will be made on the basis of their bad blood, he also explained that he doesn’t believe Garbrandt deserves the opportunity yet – something he hopes the UFC will realize.
“[Garbrandt] definitely shouldn’t get a title shot yet,” Dillashaw said on the show. “He can get a title shot once I get my belt back. He can fight me for the belt, but no way he does not deserve the title shot yet. They’re giving him match-ups that are perfect for him. I was impressed with him beating Thomas Almeida the way he did, but Almeida came out with the wrong game plan. Garbrandt’s kind of one dimensional and once you know that it’s a different kind of game. The kid’s good though. He’s athletic, he hits hard. I’ve got no beef with him, other than him trying to push for my belt right now. That’s the only kind of beef I’ve got, but yeah, he doesn’t deserve a shot.
Of course, it’s very possible that Dillashaw will wind up disappointed, as the UFC’s opts for what they believe to be a more lucrative fight in Cruz vs. Garbrandt. This is what streaking bantamweight Jimmie Rivera expects will happen, and if it does, he’d like to be the man to fight Dillashaw.
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