T.J. Dillashaw responded to those worried about his weight cut, and revealed his motivations for winning a second title ahead of this weekend’s flyweight championship fight with Henry Cejudo at UFC Brooklyn.
Los Angeles, CA — On Monday, UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw was out promoting his upcoming champion vs. champion fight at UFC Brooklyn. That fight, against flyweight champion Henry Cejudo, will see the 125lb title on the line. Which means Dillashaw could be the latest double champ in the UFC. The title bout, originally scheduled for the doomed UFC 233 card in Anaheim, California, was moved to Brooklyn in December, where it now tops the promotion’s debut on ESPN+.
At a UFC media lunch in L.A. on Monday, Dillashaw told media outlets including Cageside Press that despite the criticisms from observers online, he’s feeling great. “This is something they talk about. There’s always something to bash on, or something to talk about… some sort of talk. But I don’t really worry about it.”
A handful of photos have made the rounds among concerned MMA fans, showing a noticeably gaunt Dillashaw. “Of course I’m going to be skinnier, I’m going down a weight class,” he said in regards to concerns over his appearance. “If I were to wait and crash all the weight the last night, I’d look better throughout camp. I’d look more normal — which I feel like I look normal, but not as lean, right? — but then I would have to crash at the end and my performance wouldn’t be as good. So I’m more worried about the performance than I’m worried about what people are saying online.”
“I want to show my dominance everywhere, and really take that number one spot. I was chasing D.J., but now I’m just chasing my own legacy.”
In fact, the champ noted that “I woke up 135 this morning.” And as he pointed out, that is “super-within range. I usually show up 15 over at 135. I usually show up at 150 for 135s.” Of course, he hasn’t made the 125lb limit since he was a senior in high school — but so far he’s on track.
Plus, it is worth noting that it’s Henry Cejudo, not Dillashaw, who has had issues with weight cuts. “He’s had trouble making weight. He’s had trouble making 125s. I bet I make weight easier than he does. But it’s because of how professional I am.”
Dillashaw has long dreamed of holding multiple titles, and now that he’s on the verge of doing just that, he admits that “it feels real good.” The quest for more titles is more than just collecting belts, however. “It’s not just so much to be the champ-champ, it’s just to prove that I feel like I’m the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. I train very hard, I put everything in there, I’m a very well-rounded fighter, and it’s about time to get to prove it.”
“I want to show my dominance everywhere, and really take that number one spot. I was chasing D.J., but now I’m just chasing my own legacy,” he summed up.
To cement that legacy and truly become one of the greats, there’s Henry Cejudo to contend with. The rivalry with Cejudo is, of course, far less personal than the one Dillashaw has with Cody Garbrandt, his most recent foe. Still, heading into UFC Brooklyn, the pair have traded barbs.
It’s a “little bit less personal. It’s not so much like, hashing into people’s personal life.
More just competition. Who thinks they’re better.” It’s more his speed, Dillashaw admitted. “That’s the rivalry I like… all the trash talk I do is about me telling you I’m better than you, that I’m going to beat you that night.”
“I don’t really [like to] get into personal stuff,” Dillashaw added. “But people like it.”
One factor with the move from Anaheim to Brooklyn is the support for Dillashaw, which would have been massive when he was fighting closer to home. “I’m still going to have a huge crowd coming out to Brooklyn, which is cool, to see the support from my home town,” he told us Monday. Before the card was moved, frankly, “I could have ran to the arena,” he added.
Yet having said that, there’s an upside. “I love New York. New York has been good to me, it’s been a good fighting city,” Dillashaw said. “Sometimes it’s almost easier to leave your home to fight. I fought in Sacramento when I fought Joe Soto, obviously that fight was crazy because I was supposed to fight Barao anyways.”
But beyond the last minute opponent change back then, “there’s just so many more obligations — family wanting to stay at your house, friends trying to get a hold of you, people wanting do this and do that. When you fly somewhere, you fly, you get to the hotel, you bunk up, and that’s it.”
T.J. Dillashaw takes on Henry Cejudo in the main event of UFC Brooklyn (UFC Fight Night 143/UFC on ESPN+ 1) this Saturday, January 19 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY.