The UFC’s bantamweight division was home to one of the promotion’s most exciting rivalries in 2017.
TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt were not just two of the world’s best 135-pound fighters. They were former friends and training partners turned bitter rivals. Such an interesting story combined with the skill of the fighters involved made the bout a big deal at UFC 217 in November of last year.
After working as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter where their tension spilled over from verbal altercations to physical scuffles on more than one occasion, the two met for the undisputed bantamweight crown.
Garbrandt came in as the champ, having won the belt from Dominick Cruz who won it in a close decision from Dillashaw. After a back-and-forth first round that saw Garbrandt drop Dillashaw, the second round saw Dillashaw score the stoppage victory.
With that win, he regained the championship and even got some much-needed vindication after screaming in his fallen opponent’s face. Dillashaw didn’t take kindly to Garbrandt’s accusations regarding his character leading up to the fight. But after the victory, many fans wanted to see a rematch.
It will appear they’ll get their wish at UFC 227. The rematch will take place on August 4 in Los Angeles.
The bout almost took place prior – at least matchmakers hoped it would. When Max Holloway was unable to make his scheduled title defense against Frankie Edgar at UFC 222, UFC management scrambled to put a new main event together.
A rematch between Dillashaw and Garbrandt was suggested, but Dillashaw turned down the offer. Not only did he have a commitment to fatherhood given the recent birth of his child, but he also noted that Garbrandt should have to win at least one fight before he was deserving of another shot.
He said: “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.”
His logic doesn’t appear to be the same as that of the matchmakers, as the rematch is in effect despite Garbrandt not fighting since falling to Dillashaw in November.
Dillashaw has been tentatively penciled in for another clash, but it’s still failed to materialize despite discussion from both sides. He was originally gunning for a champion-versus-champion match with flyweight king and title defense record holder Demetrious Johnson.
Johnson broke Anderson Silva’s title defense record with a spectacular submission of Ray Borg, a fight which he opted to take even over the prospective Dillashaw bout. While some thought Johnson was pricing himself out of the super fight, others believed his reservations were warranted as he was concerned the 135-pound Dillashaw wouldn’t make weight.