UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw is aiming to become just the second fighter in the promotion’s history to hold two titles in separate weight classes, simultaneously
The first fighter to achieve that feat was Conor McGregor in 2016. Don’t expect TJ Dillashaw to accept any further comparisons if he accomplishes his goal.
Dillashaw was asked by Ariel Helwani on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour if he would be pursuing the UFC flyweight title currently held by dominant champion Demetrious Johnson:
Why not? This fight makes sense,” Dillashaw explained.
“He doesn’t have anybody and this thing should’ve happened in August. He wants a big money fight. He wants to prove that he’s the pound-for-pound king. This is the step. 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.”
Following Cody Garbrandt‘s withdrawal from their UFC 213 bantamweight title fight in the summer, Dillashaw made it known that he wanted Johnson. That fight never happened but the 31-year-old is confident that they can ‘get it on’ soon enough:
“He came by when I was taking photos with the belt (at UFC 217) and he said that I did the first step,” Dillashaw said. “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.”
In order to nail a fight with Johnson, Dillashaw must first ensure that he can drop the weight to challenge Johnson at 125-pounds. While UFC lightweight champion moved up to secure his second title, he “relinquished” his 145-pound strap without defending it. McGregor has failed to defend the 155-pound version, also, which is something Dillashaw is keen to point out when comparisons are made to his own lofty ambitions:
“He’s never defended a title. I have,” Dillashaw said of McGregor. “He’s never defended a belt ever. I’m not one of those guys. I’m one of those guys who’s a hard worker. I’m in the gym nonstop, I’m always in shape, so I’m willing to do what it takes. If they’ll let me defend both (titles), I will. It’s something that, I’m willing to work. I want to prove there’s a way to be a champion and this is the way to do it.”
Dillashaw was also unconcerned with how his desire to snatch a second title could affect the bantamweight division. With Cody Garbrandt now beaten, Dominick Cruz was the man most had expected to be granted a title shot if he could overcome the challenge of Jimmy Riviera at UFC 219. Cruz recently pulled out of that contest with a broken arm but regardless, Dillashaw will not be offering him a title shot anytime soon:
“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.”
Dillashaw is remaining open-minded regarding a bout with Johnson, however, as there are no guarantees that it will happen at all:
“He was scared the first time, so I’d imagine he’s still scared now too,” Dillashaw said. “I respect Demetrious Johnson. I respect him as a human being. He always acts like a professional, he’s a nice guy, but that still doesn’t mean that I can’t say that he’s scared to fight me. I do respect him, I respect his choices and he’s got an awesome little family and stuff, but it’s time to man up. This isn’t about liking or disliking me. This is about the fight that needs to happen.”