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T.J. Dillashaw says UFC ‘loved’ Cody Garbrandt and wanted to ‘pump him up’

T.J. Dillashaw felt like the UFC wanted Cody Garbrandt to become the new face of the bantamweight division.

UFC 227 Dillashaw v Garbrandt 2 Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

T.J. Dillashaw campaigned hard for a flyweight superfight with Demetrious Johnson but, according to him, the UFC were just as keen to push him into an immediate rematch with Cody Garbrandt.

That rematch materialized at UFC 227, where Dillashaw knocked out Garbrandt for the second time in a row and cemented himself as a top-three pound-for-pound talent.

According to TJ, Ultimate Fighting Championship was ‘hard’ for Garbrandt and wanted to ‘pump him up’ as the new face of the bantamweight division.

“We agreed to [a fight with Demetrious Johnson] but then he had to get shoulder surgery and so the UFC was like, ‘We don’t know how long he’s gonna be out, we want you to fight Cody,’” Dillashaw said on the latest edition of Brendan Schaub’s Below the Belt, per MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew. “I’m still waiting for a phone call right now from my manager saying, ‘Man, the UFC wants you to fight Cody again. They think it was a fluke.’ [Laughs]. You know what I mean?

“I’m just kidding. The UFC’s put so much money and time into that kid, they loved him. They were hard for that kid. They wanted to pump him up. Even the Embeddeds coming up to this fight - I’m the world f**king champion and it’s about him! Dude, it’s f**king ridiculous. I’m just waiting for this phone call saying, ‘They want you to fight Cody again.’ Sweet! Pay me some more money, I’ll knock his ass out again.”

With ‘No Love’ in the rear-view mirror, two-time champ Dillashaw is open to a rematch with Dominick Cruz, but only if ‘The Dominator’ proves himself against a top contender first. Cruz beat Dillashaw in a controversial split decision back at UFC Fight Night 81 in 2016.

“The one thing I have against Cruz is he feels entitled,” Dillashaw said. “He feels entitled to this rematch. You haven’t been active. If you’ve been active, sure you deserve the title match. But you want to be sidelined for two years saying you’re ‘injured’ [makes quotations with his fingers] and then all of a sudden I’m looking for a contender and you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m ready.’ You just want to pass murderers row up. You don’t want to challenge yourself whatsoever. To me it’s a little p*ssy move. ‘Oh, I’m hurt.’ Sure, maybe you were hurt but go out there and prove yourself. Go out there and beat Marlon Moraes and let’s do this dance.”

With a spot in the top-three pound-for-pound rankings, Dillashaw may very well be the best UFC bantamweight of all time. A win over Cruz would cement his legacy as the greatest.