Playing Match-maker: Is it time for DJ vs. TJ?

dj vs tj

DJ vs. TJ may be the next fight to make for the bantamweight title.

TJ Dillashaw just pulled off a huge upset and come-from-behind victory, knocking out Cody Garbrandt at UFC 217 to reclaim the bantamweight title. The question now is: What’s next?

There are several likely contenders. The first obvious one would be Garbrandt in an immediate rematch for the title. Their grudge match makes for a good build up, but the fight ended so decisively that it’s likely the UFC will opt for a different challenger.

Next likely choice would be Dominick Cruz, who dethroned Dillashaw in a close decision win two years ago. This rematch would allow Dillashaw to get even with Cruz and prove that he is the undisputed best fighter at 135lbs.

Other deserving contenders include Rafael Assuncao and Jimmie Rivera, but if the UFC would like to get a challenger with more name recognition, then they could opt for Fil-Am John Dodson. Dodson earned his UFC contract by knocking Dillashaw out in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter early on in his career. If he can win in impressive fashion at UFC 218, then he might just build enough hype behind a rematch between him and Dillashaw.

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However, if the UFC wants to really go big, then they might as well go small: to a smaller weight class, that is. UFC flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (aka “DJ”) boasts the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history. He’s widely considered as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter to ever compete.

That was, of course, until today, as Georges St.-Pierre (GSP) secured a UFC title in his second weight division against Michael Bisping at UFC 217. Now, as great as “DJ” may be, he holds a UFC belt in only one division, but securing a belt from a second division would cement his GOAT (Greatest of all Time, for those living under a rock) status even above GSP.

He’ll have a chance to do that if he moves up from flyweight to bantamweight to take on Dillashaw, who isn’t a massive bantamweight by any metric. There have been talks in the past about two of them fighting after Dillashaw had lost the belt to Cruz. However, with no second belt as an incentive for “Mighty Mouse,” that plan fell through.

Now, both men have belts, and the UFC can book yet another match between two undisputed champions. Dillashaw called out Johnson after his win over Garbrandt and expressed interest to move down to flyweight to fight Johnson for his title. Either way–if Johnson moves up or if Dillashaw moves down–one man will have a chance to win a title in a second weight class.

Given the UFC’s recent penchant for booking fights that leapfrog over rankings and bridge gaps in weight divisions, this fight is not out of the realm of possibility. Heck, given the UFC’s moves as of late, it’s par for the course.

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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