TJ Dillashaw’s Next Move: Rivalry? Money Fight?
Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw has knocked out top contender Cody Garbrandt twice now, really ending any further rivalry with “No Love” for the foreseeable future. So in a rivalry that has been controlling the division since Cody became champion defeating Dominick Cruz at UFC 207, we now need a new top contender solidified in the division. The UFC and TJ Dillashaw have options, as many desirable opponents are available at the top of the 135 lb. division. Let’s look into some of those options weighing on Dana White’s mind.
The Rivalry Route
Tj Dillashaw has been a champion before, losing that belt in 2016 to whom many consider the GOAT of the division, Dominick Cruz. The decision was razor thin, and TJ felt he deserved an immediate rematch considering how close the contest was, Dana had different ideas. This division has been controlled by Rivalries over the last year, and a rematch with Cruz for a chance to win “his” belt back, well fans would love that. Cruz has been inactive due to injuries since Cody Garbrandt dismantled him at 207, does Cruz really deserve an immediate title shot when TJ just dismantled Cody himself, and inactivity while others have been actively pursuing the belt. That is up for argument, but knowing how Dana does his work, I would not be shocked if this is the next bantamweight championship fight, after all, it is good for promoting, two guys with bad blood and Cruz attracts lots of fans to that fight.
The Honorable Route:
Raphael Assuncao has defeated Tj Dillashaw, not a finishing fighter by any means, he is a top 3 Bantamweight who most recently took down rising prospect Rob Font. Assuncao is on a 4 fight win streak defeating (another top deserving contender) Marlon Moraes. Assuncao is 1-1 against Dillashaw and may be the most deserving candidate for a 3rd matchup this time for Gold. Assuncao has one problem, he isn’t a crowd pleaser plus he isn’t super active, and I am sure Dana would be worried on how well he could sell the fight. Assuncao is a very deserving guy but his lack of finishes could keep him from earning his very deserving title shot just yet.
The Front Runner:
Marlon Moraes, many of you may be saying “how is he deserving when the guy who beat him is fighting for a title shot?” Well, that loss to Assuncao happened over a year ago, and Moraes has been super active. He also has back to back 1st round KO wins over top 10 talent in the division, earning him POTN bonuses. His activity, and most recent impressive win over Rivera could absolutely prove that Moraes is the most deserving candidate there is. Both Moraes and TJ are no strangers to finishes, which will get Dana excited, so this one may be the front-runner for the time being. This is one fans would love to see.
The Money Fight:
Nothing gets Dana White more excited than a “Money Fight.” Brock Lesnar Vs. DC, McGregor Vs. Mayweather, DC vs. Stipe, any chance to put multiple belts in one poster, or multiple superstars, well Dana just falls in love. Lately TJ and Team Money Team product, Boxer Gervonta Davis have been going at it on Twitter. Davis seems “welcome” to enter the octagon and face off with Dillashaw. We have seen the cross-promotion world this past summer when McGregor faced off with Mayweather in a boxing match. Mayweather fell back on his promise to enter the cage to face McGregor, so many MMA fans have been waiting for a boxer to enter their world. The rising star in the boxing world may just give those fans what they want to see, how long a boxer could last with full MMA rules in the cage. The main question is whether or not any of this is a reality. Davis could just be attracting popularity for his trash talk, Dillashaw may be along for the ride, whether or not the trash talk is real, it doesn’t exactly transfer to these two meeting in the octagon. Guess it is up to Dana to make this real, but for now, we can consider it a very unlikely option, maybe even an impossible option. The reality is though if this does happen everyone involved would make some good cash.
Cejudo Vs. Dillashaw, I think this is one is the reach. This one is just as unlikely as Davis Vs Dillashaw. Unless Johnson is seriously injured, he is getting an immediate rematch. Which means Cejudo would have to beat him again for this two division fight to happen. I just don’t see the timeline for this fight to happen immediately. I think each fighter has at least one more fight in their respective divisions before we see them in the same cage. Cejudo just won a razor-thin decision against Johnson, and in my opinion, won the fight but that doesn’t change that DJ should be given an immediate chance to redeem his title. I also don’t think TJ will be in any rush to get back into the Octagon unless the card is right for him. Cejudo getting a second win over Johnson could absolutely change this fight from “The Reach” to the “Most Likely to Happen” status. I just see this two fighting again in their own division first before they meet for the chance at double belts.
Whatever Tj Dillashaw seems to want next he has many options. I am sure he and Dana White will sit down to talk very soon on what is next for the champion, and what can make him, the UFC and Dillashaw the most money.
Author: Joe McDonagh (@joe_mcdonagh6)