Getting a title shot in mixed martial arts can be weird.
Bellator founder Bjorn Rebney thought he had solved the problem – only way to get a title shot was through a contender tournament. But no one cared, and he was ultimately ousted.
So the sport went back to sometimes weird.
Consider T.J. Dillashaw.
He lost a split decision to Raphael Assunção at UFC Fight Night 29 in 2013. Then he won a decision over Mike Easton, who himself had just lost two decisions in a row, and would go on to lose one more.
And then Dillashaw got a title shot vs. Renan Barão, and won. Dillashaw’s first title defense was against Joe ‘One Bad Mofo’ Soto, who had never fought in the UFC before. That’s pretty weird.
Then Dillashaw had a rematch with Barão, and won.
Then he lost his title via Split Decision to Dominick Cruz.
Dillashaw thought the fight was so close that an immediate rematch was warranted. However, Cruz instead had a trilogy fight with Urijah Faber.
Dillashaw went on to win in a rematch Raphael Assunção, making him the #1 contender in the rankings. In sum, Dillashaw lost his title in a close fight, won one, and is adamant that he wants a title shot.
Cruz in the mean time appears most interested in big PPV superfights with Jose Aldo or Conor McGregor. Barring that, Cody Garbrandt is 10-0, put on an impressive performance at UFC 200, and does good mic work, promising we’ll hear the lamentation of Cruz’s women, etc.
Dillashaw appeared recently on Brian Stann’s Toe-2-Toe radio show on SiriusXM Rush and explained just how much he wants the title shot.
“If you really look at the sport, when the number one ranked fighter beats the number two ranked fighter, the only thing that’s up next for him is a title fight,” argued T.J., as transcribed by Jed Meshew for MMA Fighting. “Who else am I gonna fight? The guy I lost a razor close decision to and, in my opinion, I won the fight. All I want is a chance to prove that I’m the better fighter and I did that by beating the number two Raphael Assunscao. I did my job. I did what I was supposed to do to get that shot.”
“[Garbrandt] knows I’m able to beat him and that’s a tough fight and he wants to get his shot. But he’s just trying to skip the line ultimately. He’s doing a smart job of it. He’s performing. He’s doing his job as well. He’s knocking these guys out but then he’s adding a little extra by talking some crap. He’s turning it into the WWE and creating this whole drama that people want to see…. It just doesn’t make sense how number eight can beat number eleven and get a title shot and skip everyone.”
“I just don’t think there’s any way of them denying it, denying me that fight. And if they do it’s a straight up robbery and this is not even a sport anymore. If they don’t give me that title fight, they skip me and give it to someone else, this is turning into more of the entertainment factor drama than it is an actual sport and I hope we stay on the side of continuing to be a sport. Let’s really have the best fight the best. I think that’s the way it needs to go.”
One option for Dillashaw of course is to grab a mic and start talking his way to a title fight with outlandish insults about Cruz’s mom making him a steak, medium rare.
“I just don’t feel like I can do it,” said Dillashaw. “I’m not a guy that’s gonna go out there and not be me and be fake and talk a bunch of crap… I’m trying to be as professional as possible when it comes to interviews and doing all the media and then being an aggressive mean son of a bitch when it comes to fighting.”