Following his first-round victory of rival Cody Garbrandt at last weekend’s UFC 227 – his second consecutive stoppage over “No Love” – bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw proclaimed he is the best 135-pound talent to ever compete in the UFC.
There’s at least one man who vehemently disagrees with that, however, and that’s the man who ended “The Viper’s” initial title reign.
Decorated former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz detailed his view on the subject during an appearance on today’s “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show,” noting that the simple fact he had beaten Dillashaw (even by split decision) meant the current champ was not the best bantamweight of all-time:
“The problem is, I beat him already. You can’t be the best unless you beat the guy that beat you. It’s just common sense. Everybody in the world knows that, including him.”
With his resumé building rapidly as he puts down one top contender after another, there’s no doubt that “The Viper” is one of the best 135-pound fighters in MMA history.
But he’s only defended the title once during his current reign, and Cruz did so five times in the WEC/UFC. With flyweight champion Henry Cejudo campaigning to fight Dillashaw, Cruz said the fact he has the most title defenses in division history is why he deserves the next title shot:
“I know I deserve that title shot,” said Cruz, “because I defended that title more times than anyone in the history of the division.”
Like that of Dillashaw, it’s not Cruz’ illustrious record keeping him from getting a title fight, it’s the never-ending injuries that have kept him from fighting with any degree of consistency over the last several years. He’s currently dealing with an almost two-year layoff since his decision loss to Garbrandt right now.
Recovering from plantar fascia tendinitis and a broken arm, Cruz says he’s now healed and ready to return this autumn. When he does, he believes he’s the only man capable of defeating Dillashaw:
“I feel 100 percent,” he said. “My body’s feeling good.
“It’s good that he’s hyping himself up to think that. It is. That’s what you’re supposed to be thinking,” Cruz said. “But I’m still right here, very relevant, regardless of the multiple injuries that I’ve had in my career. I think everybody in the world knows that I’m still extremely relevant, probably the only guy who will beat him in this division.”