TJ Dillashaw has dominated the UFC bantamweight division. His first-round TKO of Cody Garbrandt at UFC 227 solidified his status as one of the greatest bantamweights to ever enter the octagon in the UFC, with his only major blemish being a split decision loss to Dominick Cruz in 2016.
The problem now for Dillashaw is a lack of quality opponents in his division. While there are some interesting up-and-comers at 135-pounds —and Marlon Moraes and Raphael Assuncao are facing each other in just a matter of weeks—there’s a noticeably wide gap between the elite of the division and the rest. Also, consider that the injury-riddled Cruz won’t make his comeback until early 2020—if ever.
In the super fight era, a clash between “Killashaw” and then #1 pound-for-pound fighter and flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson was inevitable. That was until Henry Cejudo shocked the world, taking the 125-pound belt and playing spoiler to the Dillashaw vs. Johnson hype.
“Bring it baby, let’s do this” Dillashaw said in response to Cejudo calling him out in his post-fight interview.
And so, UFC Fight Night 143 will be TJ’s chance to add to his legacy when he moves down to flyweight trying to become the UFC’s latest champ-champ.
If successful, Dillashaw will become the fourth fighter ever to simultaneously hold UFC championship belts for two divisions—the first to do so by going down in weight class—and the seventh to hold two belts at any time.
Defeating Cejudo will place Dillashaw in rarefied air, but becoming champ-champ is only the next step in what would be his history-making moment—becoming the first triple champ.
Currently—besides Cejudo and Dominick Cruz—the only other match to make for Dillashaw is current UFC featherweight champion, Max Holloway.
“Everyone wants me to go to featherweight and fight Max,” Dillashaw explained during an Instagram story in January. “I would love to… I can be the first one to ever go for three belts.”
It’s unsure if Holloway will still be around when Dillashaw is ready to go again though. The 5-foot-11 fighter has recently struggled cutting weight to 145-pounds, with both fans and Dana White urging him to make the move up to lightweight.
For Dillashaw—who is 5-foot-7—155-pounds may be too far out of reach, making the Holloway matchup a non-starter. However, moving up to featherweight—no matter who holds the belt—is still the right call with nobody in lower weight classes left as an interesting matchup. Featherweights Ortega, Aldo, and Edgar are just a few great matches that Dillashaw could make for the belt in the absence of Holloway.
First, Dillashaw must successfully make weight and take down Cejudo before he gets his shot at history. Defeating Garbrandt twice, Cejudo, and Holloway/current 145-pound champ would be a legendary run placing Dillashaw in the greatest of all time conversation.
Jay is an MMA fan who loves to torture himself by staying up late to catch fights.