Newly-crowned UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw has made it no secret that he wants to drop down to 125-pounds to take out pound-for-pound number one Demetrious Johnson, and Dillashaw’s coach, Duane Ludwig, thinks the superfight ‘needs to happen’.
“I think it needs to happen,” Ludwig said on a recent episode of The MMA Hour, per MMA Fighting’s Alexander K. Lee. “Demetrious, he’s fighting the top guys - this works out because (Joseph) Benavidez is out right now, he’s still having to wait a couple of months with his knee surgery, so it works out time-wise, so in my eyes I would like to see T.J. drop down, fight Demetrious, and then go back to ‘35.”
Dillashaw, who trains with Ludwig at Elevation Fight Team in Colorado, knocked out ex-teammate turned rival Cody Garbrandt to win the 135-pound title at UFC 217 and wasted no time in calling out flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson at the post-fight press conference.
Dillashaw was originally going to challenge Johnson for the flyweight belt earlier this year, but Johnson didn’t think T.J. would be able to make weight and cancelled the UFC’s plans.
Ludwig, though, who has been coaching Dillashaw since his days at Team Alpha Male, said the Californian was in phenomenal shape during his short training camp for Johnson and believes he would have no problem making weight.
“We were en route to fight Demetrious at one point and the direction he was taking with his strength and conditioning coach, T.J. was looking phenomenal on the mitts and the sparring and the training and he looked good, his spirits were good,” Ludwig said. “So obviously we didn’t make 125 and fight and compete, but when were were en route of that, nothing really changed. T.J.’s not a big ‘35er, so he can make ‘25. It’s not going to be easy, but he’s the most dedicated person that I’ve ever seen. He really is.”
Ludwig, who retired from mixed martial arts after his loss to Che Mills in 2012, thinks Johnson is one of the best talents in the sport but believes Dillashaw has what it takes to dethrone the p4p king.
“There are some areas that we could capitalize on, that’s for sure. But I’m not going to necessarily say that he’s weak in any one area, because he’s really not,” Ludwig said. “He’s great everywhere. This is a tough challenge, but T.J. could beat him. I just think he’s on another level like T.J’s on another level, they’re both on another level compared to the people in their weight class, he just really is.”
Johnson, who recently broke Anderson Silva’s record (10) for the most consecutive title defenses by beating Ray Borg with a spectacular armbar submission at UFC 216, has yet to respond to Dillashaw’s call out, but expect a fight announcement in the coming weeks.