UFC: TJ Dillashaw Responds to Demetrious Johnson

TJ Dillashaw responded to Demetrious Johnson’s comments and claims that the UFC flyweight champion is tarnishing his legacy in denying his challenge.

On Tuesday, former UFC bantamweight champion spoke out regarding comments flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson made regarding his decision not to fight him.  Dillashaw stated that he believes Johnson is making excuses and is afraid to face him.

Dillashaw appeared on ESPN’s Five Rounds podcast where he spoke out against the flyweight champion.  In regards to the decision not to face him, Dillashaw stated:

“I understand where he’s coming from with some of it but a lot of it was a slap in the face to me as well. Trying to say that I don’t really deserve a title shot which I think is complete bullcrap. I don’t think there’s anybody in his weight class right now to push him and I’m healthy, I’m in shape, I’m already in the process – because Dana told me that’s who I’m fighting – of dropping the weight class. I’m waking up at 143 pounds in the morning so that’s a very, very reachable goal”

Dana White has claimed on several occasions that Dillashaw is next for Johnson, regardless of what the flyweight champion has stated publicly.  He has even gone as far as to state that Johnson is not in charge of making fights.

Johnson, for his part, has made a solid argument in stating he does not feel he is being adequately compensated for the chances he is taking on his career. However, there is no question that Dillashaw is a high-level opponent if he is able to safely make weight.  It has the potential, easily, to be the toughest fight of Johnson’s career.

In ten straight title defenses, Johnson has been victorious.  In several of those bouts, he has appeared nearly invincible. His level of dominance at 125 is such that it has actually hurt his ability to generate interest as it is acknowledged that he is head and shoulders above the rest of the field.  Dillashaw is an elite mixed martial artist, his only recent loss coming against Dominick Cruz in 2016.  In terms of skills and physical attributes, a fight with the former bantamweight champion would be a great test for the skills of “Mighty Mouse.”

There is also the factor of Johnson’s negotiating power.  If there is one thing that the situation has made clear, it is that Johnson by far carries the least amount of power of all the UFC champions.

Despite his historic dominance, he continues to have issues receiving the same level of treatment as other fighters who own hardware in the company.  He is one victory away from breaking the UFC for most title defenses. That alone guarantees his place as a headliner or co-headliner for the company as a champion.  If he were to lose the title, it is easy to imagine that the favourable billing would vanish quickly.

Dillashaw felt that a bout between himself and Johnson would rectify the champion’s issues.  He stated:

“He talks about not getting promoted and that is tough, but he finally has a chance. I think Dana’s frustration comes from him not being able to sell PPVs. And that is a fault of both. It’s Demetrious and how safe he fights, as well as maybe not getting promoted enough. The fact, once again, is this could fix all the problems he’s talking about. [I’ll continue to cut] until I hear otherwise.”

The final biggest takeaway from Dillashaw’s interview was his criticism of Johnson as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.  He felt that in the long-term, it would be a mark on his career that he did not accept the challenge to face him. He criticised “Mighty Mouse” by stating:

“Don’t be scared. To me it’s like, you’re being a ***** about it. Tell the truth. You’re talking about how you don’t want to fight me for all these other reasons but really you don’t want to fight me because you’re scared. Guess what man, you’re the greatest of all time. Put it out there. This is gonna be a historical event for you to try to break your record, let’s make this the real deal. Let’s make it against an opponent that’s gonna sell some pay-per-views, that’s gonna be a big draw. It’s just frustrating to see him backpedalling from this and it’s embarrassing for the sport for the greatest of all time to be avoiding the fight the way he is.”

As it currently stands, no official bout for either Johnson or Dillashaw has been announced.  Dillashaw is still looking for an opponent after rival TUF coach and bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt pulled out of their UFC 213 contest with a back injury.  Johnson has been expected to fight in August however in light of recent statements it would appear such plans could be in jeopardy.