LOS ANGELES — Saturday’s reboot of a bantamweight title fight between TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt played out similarly to the first meeting eight months ago, though this time, it took Dillashaw only one round to get it done.
Dillashaw (16-3) knocked out Garbrandt (11-2), his heated rival and former teammate, at 4:10 of the opening round at UFC 227 inside Staples Center. The 135-pound title fight was an immediate rematch of a bout at UFC 217 in November that Dillashaw won via TKO in the second round.
Referee Herb Dean waved it off as Dillashaw unloaded punches and a knee along the fence. That was the final sequence of the TKO, but it was a pair of right hands that really put Garbrandt in trouble. It was also the right hand that put him away in the first fight at UFC 217.
“I am the best bantamweight of all time,” Dillashaw said in the Octagon. “That’s it: Best bantamweight of all time. Here now.”
The result should end the rivalry between Dillashaw and his former camp, Team Alpha Male. Dillashaw used to train alongside Garbrandt but left the team in 2015. He now trains out of Los Angeles.
After the result, Dillashaw welcomed a challenge by newly crowned flyweight champion Henry Cejudo. Cejudo upset Demetrious Johnson in the co-main event of UFC 227 and immediately stated his intent to move up in weight.
Asked about a potential super fight with Cejudo, Dillashaw said, “It sounds like a fun fight. I wouldn’t say it should happen. He probably has to give a rematch to Demetrious Johnson. But if they make that, I’m excited.”
Dillashaw, who had previously been linked to a potential superfight with Johnson, said he was “disappointed” that Johnson lost Saturday. He added that Johnson “absolutely” deserves a rematch with Cejudo.
“He’s a very dominant champion,” Dillashaw said. “They’re 1-1. It makes sense. We’ll see.”
Garbrandt, 27, landed a few right hands that appeared to have an effect on Dillashaw, but once he began to lose control of the bout, he never reclaimed it. Dillashaw suffered a small mouse under his right eye, but he continued to keep a pace on Garbrandt.
According to Fightmetric, Dillashaw landed 34 of an attempted 62 strikes. Garbrandt landed only 10 of his 39.
Dillashaw called Garbrandt’s chin into question ahead of the rematch, but he held up well to the final onslaught. After staggering backward to the fence from a right hand, Garbrandt ate a knee and several punches before the fight was called as he was still standing.
“I knew I was gonna flip the script on him,” Dillashaw said. “Cody was going to come out thinking I was gonna throw kicks and move around, take it easy — but I know he doesn’t have a chin. I know he likes to play a dangerous game. I wanted to beat his right hand with my own and show him who has the real power.”
Garbrandt, a native of Uhrichsville, Ohio, went undefeated for four years before suffering his first loss to Dillashaw.