clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Duane Ludwig makes the case for T.J. Dillashaw to fight Demetrious Johnson next

Duane Ludwig has a few reasons why he’d like his protege T.J. Dillashaw to fight Demetrious Johnson next, some more obvious than others.

Dillashaw moving down to challenge for Johnson’s UFC flyweight title would be a huge fight. Johnson currently owns the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history (11) and Dillashaw would have the chance to break it.

On top of that, Ludwig doesn’t think any other challengers for Dillashaw’s bantamweight title have done enough at this point for a title shot, especially former champion Cody Garbrandt.

The other reason? Well, frankly, “Bang” just wants to see what the heck would happen if Dillashaw and Johnson faced off, as both a coach of MMA and a huge fan of the medium, he told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.

“Since I’ve been helping TJ, our main goal and my main goal is to see how good we can get him,” Ludwig said. “Right now, he is the best mixed martial artist that has ever walked Earth at 135 pounds. Demetrious is the best that has ever walked Earth at 125. So, it’s time to meet in the middle or we’ll meet at 125 and see who’s the best mixed martial artist.

“Because for me personally, I am super fascinated with the development and the evolution of the human species and specifically in the subject of a martial artist. I want to find out how much exactly I know by testing that against Demetrious Johnson utilizing TJ’s skillset, as a martial arts enthusiast.”

Ludwig, a former UFC fighter and star kickboxer himself, has mentored Dillashaw for years, going back to his days as the head coach of Team Alpha Male. He said that Dillashaw definitely wants to fight “Mighty Mouse” next and he doesn’t understand why it seems like the UFC might be moving away from that.

UFC president Dana White said recently that the Johnson vs. Dillashaw superfight “is not happening,” but that has been heard before on certain fights and they still worked out.

There has been talk recently of Johnson taking on Henry Cejudo in his next bout and Dillashaw defending against Garbrandt. Ludwig suspects that the UFC has a vested interest in seeing Garbrandt get the title back.

“We have an entertainment company (Endeavor) buying a martial arts, fight business,” Ludwig said. “That’s what’s going on. That’s why we’re dealing with these certain situations. They spent a couple billion dollars buying the place, they’re trying to make some money back. … They’re still putting on good fights and doing a kick ass job, I just think they need to take it in another direction and set up the fight with TJ and Demetrious.

“They must really love Cody. He doesn’t deserve a rematch. But the timing for that rematch wasn’t good for us, either.”

That rematch was on the table for UFC 222 earlier this month in Las Vegas, but didn’t end up coming together. Dillashaw and his wife just had a baby and he wasn’t training to fight at the time. Cris Cyborg ended up stepping up and defending her women’s featherweight title against Yana Kunitskaya.

Even if Dillashaw was ready to go for March 3, Ludwig said he was against having Garbrandt be the opponent. Dillashaw knocked Garbrandt out in the second round at UFC 217 in November to reclaim the title and, to “Bang,” an immediate rematch just doesn’t make sense.

“I just feel that he needs to earn it and deserve it,” Ludwig said of Garbrandt. “He needs to earn and deserve his title. He got knocked out in the second round. He hasn’t earned anything.”

If Ludwig were a betting man, he said he believes Dillashaw vs. Johnson for the flyweight title will happen next — and it will happen at UFC 226 as part of the promotion’s big annual International Fight Week extravaganza in Las Vegas.

“July 7, TJ Dillashaw will be the 125-pound champion,” Ludwig said.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting