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Dominick Cruz explains why Garbrandt got UFC 207 title shot over 'whiny little crybaby' Dillashaw
UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz was never given a direct reason from UFC officials regarding why Cody Garbrandt was selected over T.J. Dillashaw as his next challenger. However, he has some theories.
Cruz (22-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC), who puts his belt up for grabs against Garbrandt (10-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in next month’s UFC 207 co-headliner, started off his 2016 campaign by returning from a lengthy injury layoff to capture the 135-pound strap from Dillashaw (13-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 81 in January. It was a competitive split-decision that could have justifiably gone either way, but “The Dominator” was awarded the win, and Dillashaw has been fuming since.
Dillashaw expressed frustration when Urijah Faber (33-10 MMA, 9-6 UFC) was granted a title shot over him at UFC 199 in June, and instead he got the chance to avenge another career loss against Raphael Assuncao at UFC 200. He won a unanimous decision and hoped his rematch with Cruz would be next, but while all that was going on, the champ was becoming locked in a feud with Garbrandt, setting up their title clash and once again leaving Dillashaw as the angered odd-man out.
The former champ was then booked against John Lineker on the same UFC 207 card where Cruz and Garbrandt will fight for the gold, and if he wins, it’s almost impossible to see anything that would stand in the way of him finally getting his title-shot wish regardless of who is champion.
Fighters have received title shots for a lot less than what Dillashaw is currently being forced to endure, but Cruz doesn’t care. He said Dillashaw simply doesn’t gain the same sort of traction with fans as Faber or Garbrandt, and that’s why the UFC has yet to offer him the rematch.
“The new owners of the UFC, they’re a management company, they deal with high, elite-level stars, and if you really look at the background of the people who just spent $4.2 billion on the UFC, they’re going to make specific decisions according to making the business better,” Cruz told MMAjunkie. “Dillashaw, in my opinion, doesn’t make the business better. Cody, with the emotional wreck that he is, people can grasp to that because they see the emotion in him, they see what he’s thinking, they see what he’s feeling. He lets it all out. Dillashaw is fake. Everything Dillashaw does is a lie. He can’t let his true self out.
“If he did let his true self out I think he would be much more interesting – but Dillashaw holds back,” he continued. “You saw it in our first fight, in our first interview, he holds back his emotion. Now, after I punked him, and then I beat him and took away his interim title and made him realize he never was the champion, he started talking. You’re hearing more talking out of T.J. Dillashaw right now than you ever heard not only when he was the interim champion, but ever in his entire career. You’re hearing more of Dillashaw now. I helped Dillashaw. I made Dillashaw more relevant. I made Dillashaw have a voice and I taught Dillashaw how to come out of his own shell. He can hate me for that all he wants, but this guy is talking more than ever. That being said, he’s doing that after he lost the opportunity by not letting himself out in the first place.”
UFC 207 takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Cruz vs. Garbrandt co-headlines the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasn’t been finalized.
Prior to the announcement Cruz, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, would make his second bantamweight title defense against No. 7-ranked Garbrandt at UFC 207, No. 2-ranked Dillashaw was putting all his cards on the table in hopes of getting the fight. He gave Cruz and the UFC verbal lashings during interviews and on social media, then decided to even go as proposing a bet with the current champion.
Dillashaw offered to put his $100,000 fight purse () up for grabs in a rematch with Cruz, something which other fighters have done in the past, but never seems to actually materialize into a real stake on fight night. Cruz didn’t even acknowledge the offer, and had some very passionate words about why it was a foolish move for Dillashaw to even make such a ludicrous proposition.
“It was a desperation move and it was sad because really he’s undercutting himself,” Cruz said. “He’s showing why fighters have been hurt in the past. He doesn’t credit himself as a fighter by offering his own money to fight me. Why would you offer your own money to fight me? I’m not a gambler, I’m a professional athlete. I’m never, ever going to gamble on my own work ethic and the things I do and the things that I know that I am. I’m never going to gamble on that. He would gamble on that because he needs too because I have everything to lose and he’s trying to get everything that he thought he had that I had before he even had it, if that even makes sense. He never had the belt. He thought he was the champion, but he wasn’t. That’s why he had to fight me, then he lost to me and realized he wasn’t any more and he never was. After that he decided, ‘Here’s what I’m going to do.’ But we’re not a gambling organization. This is a professional athletic organization and you’re cutting yourself short by showing how fighters undercut each other by going their own way.
“Instead of going with getting the most amount of money for each fight, he’s willing to offer his own $100,000 to fight me? You know what that would do to the landscape of the 135-pound division? It would hurt it,” he continued. “It wouldn’t built it. Champions are supposed to build the division, not break it down and take money from it. That’s what T.J. Dillashaw’s trying to do. He’s trying to break down the 135-pound division by offering up his own money to get a fight. Why would I ever do that? I’m a professional athlete and they’re going to pay me three times what you’re offering me. Who cares what you’re even offering me? And who cares what you think? This is about being a professional, showing up, doing the job according to who they put in front of me. That person is Cody Garbrandt. I don’t run this organization. Nobody does except for the head execs who are worth $4.2 billion. You think they’re going to let somebody else chose how this thing goes? Absolutely not.”
Cruz said he also suspects Dillashaw’s frustration is born out of jealousy. Dillashaw used to be a training partner of Garbrandt at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif., before he had a messy split with the training camp this past year. Ever since there’s been tension between the two sides, even going as far as the discussion UFC would book fights between Dillashaw and any combination of Garbrandt and Faber at some point in the future.
Dillashaw used to be well-kept under Faber’s wing while training at Team Alpha Male, but since he parted ways with the camp, “The California Kid” has painted Garbrandt as the future of the team and its next great hope at UFC championship glory. Cruz thinks Faber’s guidance did a lot to help Garbrandt set himself up for the opportunity to challenge for the title at UFC 207, and he said Dillashaw is likely upset he wasn’t the one in that position.
“(Garbrandt’s) run by Faber and he’s good at talking toward title shots,” Cruz said. “The guy’s got eight title shots he’s never completed, so any guy with that background in media and understanding how to get a title fight, is going to help Cody get that title fight, and that’s what he did. He coached Cody into getting a position by doing what the big executives of the UFC want to see. T.J. Dillashaw left that coaching and he went to hang out with (Duane) Ludwig to sell peanut butter and talk about being a martial artist when that’s nothing that he’s actually trying to do. He’s actually just wanting a big fight, but he’s unwilling to do what it takes. He keeps his mouth shut but he’s finally just starting to open it up now. Now we’re starting to see who T.J. Dillashaw really is. He’s a whiny little crybaby when he doesn’t get his way. That’s basically about it.”