T.J. Dillashaw hasn’t forgotten about Demetrious Johnson denying him a marquee fight this past summer.
When Cody Garbrandt pulled out of a proposed UFC 213 clash against Dillashaw due to a back injury, the promotion moved quickly to book Dillashaw in a 125-pound title bout against Demetrious Johnson. There was one big problem: “Mighty Mouse” didn’t want the fight, instead targeting Ray Borg for his record-breaking 13th consecutive championship defense. At the time, Johnson’s biggest issue was that Dillashaw didn’t have a flyweight victory to his credit.
Dillashaw still doesn’t have a flyweight triumph, but his second-round stoppage of Garbrandt at UFC 217 to claim bantamweight gold for a second time is probably bigger. And if Garbrandt had been talking about a fight with Johnson with a win, Dillashaw wants the same opportunity. After all, it’s one he could have had a few months prior.
“That’s a fight I want. When Cody pulled out in July, I told Dana I wanted to fight for the belt,” Dillashaw said on Fox Sports 1. “Demetrious Johnson was looking for a big fight, looking for a big money fight. And he had a record to break on the line and I thought it was the perfect story. I knew I could make the weight class. It was something I wanted to do, and I still want to do it.
“He’s the pound-for-pound kingpin right now and I want to knock him off. I want to prove that record that he broke, it’s not real. There should be an asterisk next to it because we should have fought.”
While Johnson won’t ever have an asterisk attached to his record, a “Mighty Mouse” vs. Dillashaw matchup seems like a very realistic possibility at this point.
“Demetrious Johnson has been crying for a big fight,” UFC President Dana White said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “He’s got his big fight now in Dillashaw.”
While the winner of the Dominick Cruz-Jimmie Rivera pairing at UFC 219 could loom large in the bantamweight division, Dillashaw says he’s already prepared for a drop to 125 pounds.
“He better not be running. He can’t run,” Dillashaw said of Johnson. “There’s no turning from it now. I’m coming to that weight class. I want to go to 125. I want to stop that record. I know I can make it. Three weeks after getting told I was fighting Demetrious, I was only 15 pounds over the weight. I’m not a big 135-pounder anyways. I can make the weight.”