A potential superfight between UFC champions Demetrious Johnson and T.J. Dillashaw has been one of the most discussed matchups of the last year.
It appears to be on the back burner for the time being with both fighters scheduled for title defenses on the same card.
Even Dillashaw can’t put his finger on why the fight never materialized.
“I don’t really know,” the bantamweight champion said during a lunch with reporters in Los Angeles on Friday in advance of UFC 227 on Aug. 4 at Staples Center, where he will fight Cody Garbrandt.
“I think that’s a good question for Demetrious Johnson. Maybe he wanted some guaranteed money. Maybe he wasn’t willing to gamble on himself on the pay-per-view numbers. But as far as I was concerned, the fans wanted it, the UFC wanted it. Everyone knows I wanted it.”
Instead, he will get the rematch against Garbrandt, his rival and the man he won the belt from last year.
It’s a fine consolation prize for Dillashaw, who handed his former training partner the first loss of his career in November.
“I love getting rich for knocking Cody out,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of holes I didn’t show as well in his game when I finished him in the second round. I still believe those same openings will be there. I don’t think he’s an intelligent fighter to switch up what he does.
“It’s a lot different this time. He can’t be such a jerk – he just got finished. For as much crap as he talked, he deserves to get his ass kicked again.”
He may then start to again push for the fight against Johnson, who will defend the flyweight belt against Henry Cejudo at the same event.
“I respect Demetrious Johnson as a person and as an athlete and that’s kind of why I was chasing him down,” Dillashaw said. “He’s got that target on his back. He’s got that pound-for-pound spot that I want to come in and take. Not only to make the big bucks on a big fight, but for the legacy. Chasing that spot down. So really I think it’s a question for him why it didn’t really happen.
“He’s got that spot and I’m looking to take it. Our fight is ahead of us that we gotta worry about. And we’ll talk about it after the fight.”
Dillashaw said he would prefer to drop down to fight for Johnson’s 125-pound belt, but is willing to also do it in his 135-pound class.
Montano seeks September date
Inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champ Nicco Montano appears to finally be ready to make the first defense of the belt she captured by winning “The Ultimate Fighter” tournament in December.
Several reasons have been cited for her inactivity, from illness to injury to fatigue, but Montano posted on social media she plans to put her belt on the line against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228 on Sept. 8.
“Alright, let’s get this show on the road!” Montano wrote on Instagram. “What you got on your girl, Sept 8th in Vegas, Valentina! Now that I’m finally back to a healthy body I’m ready to go, it was only a matter of time!”
UFC officials have not confirmed Las Vegas as the site of the event, which already includes a matchup of top featherweight prospects Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov.
Shevchenko said there was only one hold up.
”Hey Nicco, finally!” Shevchenko wrote in response. “Sign the fight agreement first. You changed your word once already. No trust before I see the paper from you.”
The UFC will return to Singapore on Saturday for an event slated to begin at 4:30 a.m. PDT.
UFC Fight Night 132 will be headlined by a welterweight bout between Leon Edwards and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
Las Vegan Jessica-Rose Clark gets a big opportunity against veteran Jessica Eye in a women’s flyweight contest.
Also on the card, which will stream on Fight Pass, light heavyweight Ovince Saint-Preux will take on Tyson Pedro.
— Thursday: PFL 2 (NBC Sports Network), Chicago
— Saturday: UFC Fight Night 132 (Fight Pass), Singapore
— July 6: “The Ultimate Fighter” 27 Finale (FS1), Palms
— July 7: UFC 226 (FS1/PPV), T-Mobile Arena