Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw, definitively rid himself of bitter rival Cody Garbrandt — and the rest of his former training partners at Team Alpha Male — with his emphatic technical knockout victory in the UFC 227 main event, which took place last Saturday night (Aug. 4, 2018) in Los Angeles, California.
Dillashaw (16-3) already stopped Garbrandt at UFC 217 last November and the decision to pair them off again without “No Love” earning another win was a bit puzzling, especially when you consider that Garbrandt hadn’t even made a single title defense.
But in UFC there is often times no rhyme or reason to who gets title shots and after the fight, color commentator Joe Rogan called former 135-pound kingpin Dominick Cruz “the most compelling option” in regards to who’s next in line.
Cruz (22-2) is coming off a convincing unanimous decision loss to Garbrandt at UFC 207 in late 2016, which in the most “Dominator” way possible, is the last time we’ve seen him compete inside the cage.
He simply can’t stay healthy.
In addition, he was already booked to fight Jimmie Rivera before getting hurt, so that should tell you where he was in terms of the championship pecking order. Yes, Cruz holds a split-decision win over Dillashaw from UFC Fight Night 81, but so does Raphael Assuncao from UFC Fight Night 29.
The Brazilian is 11-1 dating back to 2011 and the winner of four straight.
It was widely accepted that the winner of Cruz vs. Rivera would get the next crack at the 135-pound crown and when “The Dominator” got hurt, that spot went to former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes.
“Magic” ruined “El Terror” by way of violent first-round knockout, a performance not unlike the one he turned in against Aljamain Sterling a few months prior.
Cruz doesn’t deserve a title shot because he’s coming off a loss and that seems pretty cut and dry to me. Let’s face it, he’s not Brock Lesnar and won’t sell a million pay-per-view (PPV) buys, so he should have to play by the rules.
You can argue that Assuncao’s split-decision win over Moraes when “Magic” made his UFC debut in June 2017 puts him ahead of his fellow Brazilian, but it was a very close fight and you can also argue that Moraes did enough to win.
I know there was talk of Henry Cejudo moving up — or TJ Dillashaw moving down — to do another “champion vs. champion” super fight, but considering “The Messenger” needed a split decision to dethrone “Mighty Mouse,” also at UFC 227, I would much rather see that rubber match.
Johnson, considering what he's done at flyweight the past several years, has certainly earned an immediate rematch.
I think the fight that makes the most sense is Dillashaw vs. Moraes, simply because they are two of the most exciting fighters at 135 pounds. Cruz can then battle Assuncao for the next bantamweight title shot, while Garbrandt can trade leather with Rivera.
That takes care of the entire top five while maintaining divisional integrity.
For much more on UFC 227, including recaps, videos, reactions, highlights, and so much more, head over to our “Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt” live story stream by clicking here.