For champ T.J. Dillashaw, it doesn't matter if the first defense of his UFC bantamweight belt is going to be against Renan Barao or Raphael Assuncao. Interviewed by Tatame.com.br, the UFC 135-pound titleholder thinks that both of the possible challengers deserve the shot at the belt and praised the former champion for his reign before UFC 173:
I fought with both of them. I think that they both deserve the title shot. Obviously, for Barao being such a dominant fighter, he has this right. He is still one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. He was a great champion, and he was coming in on an impressive win streak. So, whatever Dana White says, I'm in.
But there are no such kind words for the other contender.
Definitely I want to face Assuncao. I would love to bring that win back to me. I feel that I won. He shouldn't be in this spot right now because I won that fight. Obviously it was a close fight and my mistake was letting it go into the judges hands. I had the opportunity to finish it in the first round but I didn't do it. After that, I let him hit me too much. It was my fault and I would like to get that win.
TJ lost by split decision to the local fighter Assuncao at UFC Fight Night 29 in Brazil last October. He gave the judges no such doubts in his victory against Mike Easton at UFC Fight Night 35, on January 15, and benefited from Assunção's injury to face Renan Barao at UFC 173, on May 24.He won the title fight by TKO in the fifth round.