Fresh off of a fifth-round TKO stoppage of last-minute replacement Joe Soto at UFC 177 on Saturday night, bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw isn’t exactly excited to be considering who his next opponent might be.
Having said that he’s a company man that will fight whoever they put in front of him, for the moment, Dillashaw would like to take a step back for a little rest and relaxation. After all, he did just go from dominating Renan Barao to win the belt in May and then had to almost immediately shift back into fight gear for a rematch that was supposed to have happened on Saturday night in Sacramento.
The rematch, however, was scratched on Friday when Barao, dizzy from cutting weight, fell and hit his head and had to go to the hospital, eliminating him from the bout.
UFC newcomer Soto, who was slated to face Anthony Birchak on the undercard, stepped up to challenge Dillashaw and kept the UFC 177 headliner intact. It was a valiant effort by the former Tachi Palace Fights champion and Bellator tournament winner, but Dillashaw was too much for him.
But now the conversation shifts, as it inevitably does, to what’s next for Dillashaw.
As mentioned, he would like to take a little time off from being in fight mode. He’ll be in the gym to help his teammates prepare, but Dillashaw is tired of thinking about his next opponent.
“My mind was on Renan Barao the last four months. But I’m fighting anybody they want to put in front of me and beating them,” he said, before adding that he’d like some time to decompress.
UFC president Dana White agreed, during a scrum with reporters after UFC 177, that Assuncao would be a likely candidate, but added that it hadn’t been discussed yet. Nothing is yet concrete for Dillashaw’s next defense, other than it won’t be Barao, whom White said on Saturday has to “at least” take one other fight before earning his way back into contention.
Of course, with Faber ranked No. 2, the conversation came back around to the “teammate vs. teammate” scenario?
That’s still a long way off, however, as Faber, despite his ranking, is only one fight removed from losing to Barao in a bid for the belt. He defeated Alex Caceres in his most recent outing, but is currently nursing some injured ribs without a fight on the horizon.
Being Dillashaw’s teammate, Faber and the champ have both said there is nary a scenario that they’d contemplate fighting each other.
But after some prodding and poking, actually not that much prodding and poking, White offered up that teammates or not, Dillashaw and Faber would fight each other when the time is right.
“It’s no different than Georges St-Pierre and Rory MacDonald – when you have guys who are part of a team, they train together, when they win they’re all excited for each other, their families are here. You don’t run around saying I’ll fight him tomorrow; I want his belt,” commented White.
“It’s like Rory MacDonald is in GSP’s house – meaning his gym – he’s not gonna run around saying I want GSP for the belt. There’s a time and a place and a way to do that. You’re never gonna hear the guy say it publicly. They would never do that.
“(And) Faber’s got to be in a position to fight for the title. And if he is, I promise you he will do it. I know he will. And I know TJ will fight him, too.”
For know, however, that’s one more thing that Dillashaw can set to the curb, or at least let reporters and his boss hypothesize about, while he takes some well-earned time away from the Octagon.