When UFC 222’s original main event, a scheduled featherweight title fight between champion Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar, fell through, the promotion tossed around the idea of a bantamweight title rematch between TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt serving as a potential replacement.
“No Love”, who suffered a second-round TKO loss to Dillashaw last November at UFC 217, jumped at the idea, but Dillashaw showed little interest. At first, it appeared as if the 135-pound champion wasn’t happy with what he would be compensated for the fight, but he recently revealed that the decision to decline the fight came down to his health:
“They just kinda wanted me to save the card, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to,” Dillashaw said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I’m dealing with some injuries that I was trying to keep quiet, but they kept hammering on me and hammering on me to take this fight. But I just wasn’t healthy. It’s not only to take a fight on four weeks’ notice, but also being injured and I haven’t been training and (recently) having a kid put a wrench in that whole thing too.
“It was a no-brainer, man. I mean, they kept trying to ask me to do it, but yeah, it was a no-brainer. I just knew it wasn’t the time.
“They thought I was, like, maybe holding back for more money or whatever it is,” Dillashaw added. “But it just came down to not being healthy.”
However, it’s also safe to say that Dillashaw doesn’t necessarily feel as if Garbrandt, who never successfully defended the title after winning it from Dominick Cruz in December 2016, deserves an immediate rematch:
“It’s about this being a legitimate sport and doing it the right way,” Dillashaw said. “Tell me one other champion who never defended his belt and got an immediate rematch. He never once ever defended his belt — it wasn’t like he was a long-reigning champion or that he got robbed or whatever. There’s never ever been another champion that’s done it, so why are we making this precedent for Cody to get a rematch when he’s never defended his belt and then got knocked out? Like, how does that make sense whatsoever? So really, all I’ve got to do is state the facts.
“This is a sport. Get back in line. It took me two years to get a title shot off a split-decision loss to Dominick Cruz that the UFC told me they thought I won. It took me two years to get back to that case. Like, I worked my way back. I beat two No. 1 contenders to get there. It’s a sport, you’ve got to push hard and you’ve got to get after it. You can’t complain, you can’t be a sore loser and all this shoulda, coulda, woulda stuff.
“So it’s a little frustrating, but easy to put behind you. Let him continue to talk, be myself, and the more he talks, the dumber he looks, and more people will continue to realize it.”
At this point, Dillashaw will focus on healing and he remains hopeful that his next fight will be against flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.