Cody Garbrandt is currently sidelined with a back injury and is not sure exactly when he’ll be able to fight again. But when that time comes, the UFC bantamweight champion has a clear plan in place.
With the UFC considering TJ Dillashaw moving down to flyweight to face champion Demetrious Johnson for the 125-pound title, Garbrandt said he’d like to face the winner upon his return.
“If you’re gonna go down to 125, OK, that’s fine,” Garbrandt said of Dillashaw on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on Monday. “TJ, if you get beat, I will never fight you. I’m gonna go down and fight Demetrious at 25. You lost that chance. TJ, you go in there and beat DJ, I’m gonna jump down to 25 and steal your belt. That’s what I told [UFC president] Dana [White].”
Garbrandt was supposed to defend his bantamweight title against Dillashaw in the main event of UFC 213 on July 8 in Las Vegas. The rivalry has reached a fever pitch with the two of them coaching opposite each other on this season’s The Ultimate Fighter. But Garbrandt has an annular tear in his back after dealing with back issues all of last year and it has sidelined him for the time being.
With “No Love” out, the UFC has toyed with the idea of Johnson vs. Dillashaw. Dillashaw has clamored for the fight, though Johnson doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about it. Johnson’s next fight will be for the record of most title defenses in UFC history at 11.
“I feel like DJ will beat TJ,” Garbrandt said. “TJ is slow. TJ is very slow. I feel like, I went with him [in training]. I know that guy like the back of my hand. I feel like DJ will win that fight.”
If that fight doesn’t go down, Garbrandt said he’ll come back to defend the bantamweight belt against Dillashaw later this year. After what he plans on being a dominant victory, Garbrandt then would want to move down to 125 and challenge Johnson for the flyweight title.
“I’m gonna finish him and then I want to go and fight Demetrious,” Garbrandt said. “That’s my legacy that I’m creating. TJ is a generic version of everything. He’s a generic version of Dominick Cruz. I wanted to fight Demetrious and now he wants to fight Demetrious.”
Garbrandt, 25, said he was supposed to be cleared to train March 1 after tearing his back, but the pain and lack of mobility continued. The UFC flew him to Germany earlier this month for special treatments, but even after that it would be difficult for him to enter a training camp and fight in early July. “No Love” vowed to return this year, “for sure.”
Who that fight will be against is up in the air. It’s all predicated on whether or not the UFC decides to book Dillashaw vs. Johnson. Then Garbrandt will go from there. Either way, he has his eyes on holding two titles in the near future.
“I’m gonna go down and fight Demetrious,” Garbrandt said. “That’s my goal. I’ve spoken to Demetrious numerous times. That’s my goal after the TJ fight. TJ, first and foremost, but I’m wanting to go down and fight Demetrious right after that.
“They all know that I’m the money fight, and I’m the big fight at the lower weight classes.”