T.J. Dillashaw didn’t imagine he’d be facing Cody Garbrandt in back-to-back fights after knocking out his former teammate last November.
While it’s not that unusual for a long reigning champion to earn an automatic rematch, Garbrandt was defending his belt for the first time when he suffered the loss to Dillashaw.
Add to that, Dillashaw finished the fight in the second round so he felt like the next step in his career would either be a title defense against another top bantamweight contender or potentially a showdown against flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
As it turns out, Dillashaw says the UFC was planning on making the super fight happen with Johnson until the 125-pound champion suffered an injury that derailed that agenda.
“We were trying to line that up. We were going to line that up in April and it was pretty much done until he hurt his shoulder,” Dillashaw said on Wednesday during the UFC 227 open workouts. “As soon as he got hurt, the UFC pushed me and Cody, it’s what they wanted next.
“If Demetrious wasn’t going to happen, it was Cody. So we were in the works of finishing that fight up so I’m rooting for the guy. I hope he goes out there and gets a victory.”
In the lead up to their second fight at UFC 227, Garbrandt has said that he was suffering through injuries last year that prevented him from putting on his best performance but he is 100-percent healthy this time around.
Dillashaw hopes that’s the truth because he’s preparing for the best Garbrandt that anyone has ever seen — even if he doesn’t buy what the former champion is saying to the media.
“I prepare for everyone to be a monster. Prepare for every situation,” Dillashaw stated. “Same reason I got hit in that first round [the last fight], I was able to come back in the second. Cause you can’t focus on that stuff. You can’t overlook anybody. Gotta expect him to be awesome. [But] it’s excuses.”
Perhaps the best part of the rematch with Garbrandt sooner rather than later is that Dillashaw is excited to put this rivalry in the rearview mirror and begin focusing on a new opponent after this fight is done.
Dillashaw is confident that he’ll get the job done on Saturday night and then Garbrandt will be on the outside looking in without much hope of getting another crack at the title.
“I’m going to ruin him,” Dillashaw said about Garbrandt. “What’s he got? He’s never going to get a shot again.”