What started off as a bit of a throwaway line to reporters in the days leading up to the biggest fight of his career will soon become a reality for newly crowned UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw.
The 28-year-old reached the pinnacle of his professional life with a stunning upset of longtime champ Renan Barao in the main event of UFC 173 in Las Vegas on May 24. One of the things he said while on the interview circuit leading up to the fight was that if he won the belt, he would wear it during his upcoming wedding.
Now that he does possess the gold, he’s not backing off the comment.
“Yeah, it will definitely make an appearance,” he said with a laugh during a phone call Thursday.
Dillashaw will marry his girlfriend, Rebecca, on June 21. After that, it will be the honeymoon and then a return to the gym to help Team Alpha Male teammate Chad Mendes prepare for his Aug. 2 featherweight title bout against Jose Aldo.
Then Dillashaw can focus his attention on his first title defense. It’s unclear who his opponent will be. Barao’s camp has indicated he would like a rematch, but Dillashaw feels the one-sided nature of his victory in the title fight doesn’t merit an immediate rematch.
He would rather fight Raphael Assuncao, whose inability to accept the fight with Barao opened the door for Dillashaw to get the shot.
The new champion is still miffed about Assuncao being awarded a controversial split decision by the judges when they fought in October.
“I feel like I already beat him, but I would like to have that win back on my record,” Dillashaw said.
His first battle might be with his bride about the presence of the belt at the ceremony.
■ NO BACKUP PLAN — When the UFC announced Vitor Belfort as a replacement opponent for Chael Sonnen when Wanderlei Silva was pulled from the UFC 175 card last week, speculation began as to what happens if Belfort can’t get licensed to take the fight.
According to UFC president Dana White, Sonnen would just be pulled from the card.
Silva was removed from the fight when he ran into problems with the Nevada Athletic Commission last week. Belfort has his own potential problems with the NAC.
He will appear at a June 17 meeting to have his application for a license to fight “thoroughly reviewed.”
At issue is likely to be the still unknown result of a test administered to Belfort by the NAC in February.
If he is not licensed, there wouldn’t be enough time to alter the fight before the event at Mandalay Bay on July 5.
■ NETWORK DEAL FOR WSOF — Las Vegas-based MMA organization World Series of Fighting has reached an agreement to air select events on NBC.
All of the promotion’s past events have been broadcast on NBC Sports Network.
The new deal, which runs through 2017, will include 14 WSOF events this year.
The June 21 event at Hard Rock Hotel will air on NBCSN. The first network card will be the July 5 event in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The organization’s planned year-end event will also air on NBC.
■ ASKREN WINS ONE FC DEBUT — Undefeated welterweight Ben Askren made quick work of Bakhtiyar Abbasov in his first fight for ONE Fighting Championship in Kallang, Singapore, on Friday.
The former Bellator champion signed a lucrative deal with the organization after he failed to come to an agreement with the UFC when he became a free agent in December.
Askren, a two-time NCAA champion wrestler and two-time runner up, used an arm triangle to submit Abbasov 4:21 into the first round.
■ KAMPMANN CASHES IN — Las Vegan Martin Kampmann is viewed as the leading candidate to replace Team Alpha Male head coach Duane Ludwig.
If Kampmann does take the job, it’s probably not for financial reasons.
Kampmann, an avid poker player, took home $52,740 for winning the main event of the Nevada Poker Challenge at the Peppermill Casino in Reno.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.