Imagine this – competing at the highest level of a sport, winning a championship, and realizing you may not have even reached your ceiling.
The athlete in this scenario makes the decision to go down a weight class. It isn’t impossible, but it’s hard – and it means skipping out on a lot of delicious food while putting in a lot of extra time at the gym.
Then imagine said athlete hits their weight goal with a few ounces to spare, makes the march to compete for a second championship, and ends up being blown out in 30 seconds due to what some would call a referee’s mistake.
Anyone in this scenario would be a little sore, and it’s not fair for fans to expect TJ Dillashaw to react any differently.
The bantamweight king wanted to be the fourth person in history to hold two UFC titles simultaneously. He was the first to ever attempt this by going down in weight instead of up, a move some say is to blame for his quick loss. Yet Dillashaw claims he was healthy and strong – and he says he was continuing to attack his opponent before the ref jumped in between.
Dillashaw is a true competitor, and recently took the time to clarify he’s fully aware of how he comes off when talking about that fight.
“Let’s be honest, I’ve never said I wasn’t a sore loser,” he said. “I don’t take losing very well. That’s not a guess about me. I let my emotions get the best of me, that’s why I’m so competitive and that’s why I am who I am.”
Dillashaw said he’s been known to let his emotions get the better of him during losses – even in practice. Yet he doesn’t chalk up his current feelings to soreness about the loss alone. He legitimately believes the referee jumped in to early, and even UFC president Dana White agreed.
Dillashaw did take time to congratulate Henry Cejudo on the victory, but went on to say he believed if the two fought 100 times he’d win 99 of them. Dillashaw’s big setback has cost him a lot of grief already, with many fans and fellow fighters talking about the way he’s handled the defeat. It’s one thing to get beaten by someone in a smaller weight class – even though Henry fought at bantamweight before. But it’s another to take the loss in such a fashion.
Dillashaw has bounced back from disappointment before in his career. After losing a razor-thin split decision to Dominick Cruz and losing his title in the process, he’d bounce back with a pair of wins over former friend-turned-rival Cody Garbrandt. He’d stop Garbrandt in the second round of their first fight, and the first round of their second fight.
Dillashaw has a lot of options ahead of him, but he said he wants a rematch at flyweight. Should Cejudo entertain this, or campaign for a rematch at bantamweight so he has the chance to become a two-weight champion?