It remains to be seen whether the UFC backs TJ Dillashaw’s desire to fight for the promotion’s flyweight title, but, if he does, could the bantamweight champ end up saving the 125 division?
Dillashaw has been talking about dropping down to flyweight to fight for the division’s belt for well over a year now. Back in 2017, during Demetrious Johnson’s storied reign as the flyweight king, Dillashaw relayed he wanted a shot at the renowned fighter. Then, even after Dillashaw reclaimed the 135 title last November, he repeated his desire to face Johnson.
Well, after Henry Cejudo ended Johnson’s historic run as champ in August, he called out Dillashaw, for a shot at the 135 belt. Since then, both men have expressed an interest in fighting. Except, Dillashaw’s made it clear he thinks he’s earned the right to challenge for the 125 belt (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“Who is Henry Cejudo to have the street cred?” Dillashaw said. “I’ve been the one flirting with the idea of going down to 125 to fight a guy that was scared to fight me the entire time, a guy (Cejudo) beat.
“He beat a guy that was scared of me, and now he wants to come up and challenge me? It’s a little ridiculous if the UFC wants to get behind him.”
“…I guarantee you Cejudo is just as big as me right now. I don’t want the excuse of me beating Cejudo’s ass and (him saying), ‘Oh, it’s because he’s bigger than me. (Expletive) that. I’m not. I’ll be at 125. There’s no excuses.”
Now, even if you’re a big Cejudo supporter, and don’t agree with Dillashaw that the decorated wrestler doesn’t have the “cred” yet to fight for the bantamweight belt, you can likely understand where TJ is coming from. He has won the 135 title two times; he recently defended the belt by defeating Cody Garbrandt again, and it is true that he’s been talking about moving down for 125 for a while.
But what does this have to do with saving the flyweight division? Well, recently there has been renewed rumors that the UFC is considering axing the flyweight class. Case in point, during a recent episode of “The A-Side” live chat, MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi and Shaun Al-Shatti relayed that they’ve also heard rumblings that the UFC’s considering this.
Now, if you’re a hardcore fan / purist, then chances are this news is disconcerting to say the least. After all, flyweights routinely provide some of the most technical, fast paced and entertaining bouts. Johnson, despite his loss to Cejudo, remains one of the greatest fighters the planet has ever seen.
So, maybe having Dillashaw drop down to challenge Cejudo for the 125 belt, could bring more attention to the long, overlooked division? Whether it’s via the superfight itself, having Dillashaw as a champ-champ, or Cejudo further establishing himself, by defeating the bantamweight champ? It’s worth a shot right?