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With Garbrandt questionable, Dillashaw campaigns for Johnson, who isn’t all that interested

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Cody Garbrandt
Cody Garbrandt
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

DALLAS — UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt is dealing with a back injury that has left his July 8 title fight against TJ Dillashaw in serious jeopardy.

Garbrandt told on Friday that he’s flying to Germany on Saturday to undergo a second procedure on his back in two months and is unsure he’ll be able to compete in July.

On Friday, the UFC announced that the fight was scheduled for UFC 213 in Las Vegas, but with that event less than two months away, and considering Garbrandt’s back issue, it’s now up in the air.

As a result, Dillashaw has begun campaigning for a fight against UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. However, Johnson told Friday night that he isn’t all that interested in the fight.

“There's other challengers in the division with more wins and on a winning streak,” he said. “This wouldn't be a super-fight because TJ is not a champion. He's just a 135er coming down to 125 to skip the line that other flyweight competitors have worked hard to climb.

“Now, if he was a champion, there’d be something there.”

Johnson said he’s been recently approached about fighting someone else next, but stopped short at saying exactly who. According to multiple sources, the UFC is working on returning to Seattle, which is close to where Johnson lives, for a card in August, and that would be a nice setting for Johnson’s potential record-breaking eleventh title defense. Those plans have not been finalized just yet, though.

And before they figure out their August plans, the UFC now has to deal with what has become a troubling trend. For a third year in a row, the International Fight Week pay-per-view has proven to be a headache for the company. For UFC 213, the promotion first tried to book Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre and then Nate Diaz vs. Tony Ferguson, but to no avail. So they bumped up Garbrandt vs. Dillashaw to the headlining act, which is now on the proverbial ropes.

Also booked for July 8 is Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC women’s bantamweight title.

Update: Dillashaw responded to Johnson’s comment with this:

“First off, I believe Joseph Benavidez is the rightful contender. Since he is out with an injury and it looks like I'm out of a fight as well, timing is presenting the opportunity to fight the best pound-for-pound and stop him from breaking records.

“He needs to understand that this will be his biggest fight possible to make the most money, since he was so worried about making money after his last fight. I have tons of respect for DJ as a fighter and a person. I'm not trying to talk trash, I just want to fight the best. Let's glove up and make us some serious money. No one wants to see him fight someone he's beaten or never heard of to break the record. He's the pound-for-pound king so let's make this interesting.”

Dillashaw added that he is ready and willing to drop down to 125 pounds if presented with the opportunity.