T.J. Dillashaw isn't sure about his next step, but he certainly knows what he'd prefer. Just days after dropping his UFC bantamweight title to Dominick Cruz with a divisive split decision loss at UFC Fight Night 81, Dillashaw appeared on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour and called for an immediate rematch, defending his position by pointing to the rematches he was forced to give Renan Barao despite brutalizing the Brazilian to capture the title in the first place.
"I think we're going to be talking to Dana (White) and Lorenzo (Fertitta) here real soon," Dillashaw said. "I'm kind of letting the dust settle. I don't want to seem overly pushy about it. I told Dana after the fight that I want that rematch and I felt I deserved it, and so I'm hoping he's taking that into consideration. I'm hoping he's taking into consideration what I had to do.
"When I won the belt, I dominated Renan Barao, and they gave him an instant rematch within two months. And then he missed weight and they still gave him a rematch. So, I feel like it's deserved. I feel like I did the exact (same thing), and this fight was actually close, if not the wrong decision, to where it should get a rematch. I feel like I am the most deserving of that shot. I still feel like I should be the champ right now and I want that fight."
Dillashaw came on strong against Cruz in the championship rounds, but ultimately fell short on two of the three judges' scorecards, losing his title on Jan. 17 via split decision. However the lone dissenting judge, Sal D'Amato, scored the bout 49-46 for Dillashaw, and indeed the margin of victory in several rounds was razor thin, with the second frame -- a 10-9 for Cruz -- serving as the only unanimous choice among the judges.
Dillashaw has re-watched the fight only once in the aftermath, and while he credited Cruz for a tremendous performance, he remains adamant that he won the fight. Given Cruz's recent history, Dillashaw also can't help but worry about what Cruz's victory will mean for the division, and whether the oft-injured champion will be able to defend the belt often enough to keep bantamweight moving at a timely pace.
"I'm afraid that Cruz is going to be a champion who's going to be up on the shelf like he has been in the past," Dillashaw said. "Not defending that belt, not fighting that often. Always hurt. The guy doesn't seem like he's built to fight, and I'm just worried that he's going to be sitting on the shelf and not looking to defend his belt very often. After being an active champion, a guy who was taking fights whenever, I'm hoping that is not the case. I'm hoping I can get that shot. I want that shot bad."
For now, Cruz appears to be in good health. He suffered a minor tear in his left plantar fascia in the later stages of the fight, but expects to be back to training within four-to-six weeks. Cruz already has eyes on his next opponent, as well. Cruz told MMA Fighting last week that he wants a trilogy fight against Urijah Faber for his first title defense, rather than a rematch against Dillashaw.
"Of course he does," Dillashaw said. "Why would he want to fight me when (we had) such a close fight and I feel that I won, and a lot of other people feel that I won that fight? That's a lot more dangerous of a fight for him to take, and he's trying to stay on top. I feel like Urijah looks like the easier fight and Dominick knows that.
"I'll probably be sick to my stomach if that happens," Dillashaw added, "because why does he (Faber) deserve it? The only reason he deserves it is because he's got a name. It's not like he's had performances where he should be in title contention. I don't feel that he deserves that shot. I feel that I do. I feel that I won that fight. And it'll make me sick to my stomach."
The lingering animosity between Dillashaw and Faber is no secret. The two former teammates publicly split last year when Dillashaw left Sacramento's Team Alpha Male to join Elevation Fight Team in Colorado and train under striking coach Duane Ludwig.
Dillashaw was expected to defend his belt against Faber, his one-time friend and mentor, if he got past Cruz. Now, however, he is forced to play the waiting game and campaign for the spot that will otherwise go to Faber.
"I'm hoping to figure it out, talk to [the UFC] soon and plead my case and hopefully get that fight," Dillashaw said. "I hope everyone enjoyed it to where they would want to see that rematch. I mean, why would you not want to see that fight? I enjoyed it. I ended up getting the decision against me and I still enjoyed that fight, so I think it should be something that's redone."