This past Summer, Cody Garbrandt was set to defend his UFC Bantamweight Championship against bitter rival and former title holder TJ Dillashaw at UFC 213. The highly anticipated fight was delayed, however, when Garbrandt sustained an injury in camp and couldn’t compete in July. When that happened the UFC scrambled for a replacement bout and a superfight between Dillashaw and the UFC’s Flyweight Champion was proposed. Things got complicated when Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson refused to sign his end of the contract, as he wanted to face the opponent he was promised earlier in the year, Ray Borg. From his point of view, he was looking to break Anderson Silva’s title defense record and didn’t want to risk Dillashaw (a bantamweight) missing weight and fighting with nothing on the line. He made some really valid points, but the blue balls from the tease of that fight still lingered.
At UFC 216, Johnson defeated Borg with a spectacular suplex-armbar, and one month later at UFC 217, Dillashaw defeated Cody Garbrandt and regained his 135lb Crown, adding more intrigue than ever before in a Champion vs Champion bout at Flyweight. Dillashaw would arguably be the greatest challenger Johnson has ever faced, and Dana White loved the idea. Things started to look in that fight’s direction for UFC 226 which is this year’s International Fight Week card headlined by Miocic vs Cormier in a Champion vs Champion matchup. Until now. As Brett Okamoto of ESPN is reporting, talks have gone stagnant and no progress is being made.
FrontRowBrian, an insider in the MMA business, had shed some light on why this could be, and like him or hate him, he’s probably not wrong.
See, we’ve run into a longstanding issue with Mighty Mouse where the UFC claims he’s not a draw/not marketable so they don’t go out of their way to promote him, and then he doesn’t draw because of that, so it’s a vicious cycle. Especially vicious when you consider the fact that he’s an always entertaining fighter who may be the greatest of all time. He’s one of my favorites, and there’s not many more fight possibilities I’d rather see than this one in 2018, but without the numbers to back up his demands, there’s not much I can expect the UFC to do. The TJ Dillashaw/Cody Garbrandt rematch is more marketable, more profitable, and more possible, so this superfight may just be the one that got away.