For years now TJ Dillashaw has been an ever-present within the UFC’s bantamweight division, and at one point he even reigned supreme as the champion. Now, however, he’s not only chasing the gold for the second time – but he’s also chasing former Alpha Mate teammate and bitter rival Cody Garbrandt.
Next weekend at Madison Square Garden, we’ll see the culmination of one of the most bitter rivalries in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It’s been a simple enough tale, up to this point, of Dillashaw leaving for pastures new meanwhile Garbrandt feels as if his upcoming opponent went about his business in the worst way imaginable.
“It’s definitely been getting a lot of hype [Bantamweight division], it’s built itself up big time. It’s been a great division for a long time, but it’s even stronger now. It’s good.”
Whichever side you believe, nobody can deny that it makes for fascinating viewing as an outsider. So then, you can imagine our joy when we had the chance to speak with TJ during the first of two conference calls for the blockbuster UFC 217 event.
Whilst it may have been brief, our chat signified that Dillashaw’s mind is focused on one thing and one thing only – capturing the gold once again. In his mind, the storyline heading into this fight not only seems irrelevant but will be completely forgotten once that cage door shuts on November 4th.
With a 14-3 professional record, it’s clear to see how much TJ has grown throughout his young mixed martial arts career, and he’ll have no qualms whatsoever with trying to add the first blemish onto Cody’s perfect 11-0.
The thing that intrigues the masses about this the most is that it’s so difficult to predict what’s going to happen. Cody is certainly a promising star and his skill set continues to grow day by day, but nobody can figure out whether or not his back injury will end up hindering his overall performance.
Despite this, TJ is still coming in as an underdog with many bookmakers, although facing adversity isn’t exactly a strange occurrence for him. Even on the night he won the belt nobody was anticipating that he could actually do it, and the same can be said of several fights since then.
“You’re always excited for what’s next, it’s the whole point of having dreams, you know what I mean? You can look forward on what your career is gonna do, and keep setting new goals and dreams. But, I’m enjoying this process aswell.”
There’s a good chance that this won’t be the last time these two square off in the cage, mainly because they’re far and away two of the best bantamweights in the world right now. Still, bragging rights is an important thing, and that’ll be one of the dominant themes from now until fight night – alongside the championship itself, of course.
It’d be foolish to sit here and make a prediction but just from listening to Garbrandt and Dillashaw speak, it’s safe to say that they’re as prepared as a man can be heading into such a titanic showdown.