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T.J. Dillashaw: Cody Garbrandt plays a ‘dangerous game,’ and ‘I really don’t believe he’s got a chin’

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LOS ANGELES — T.J. Dillashaw talked about it after UFC 217 and this week before the rematch. He said repeatedly that he doesn’t think rival Cody Garbrandt has the ability to take shots.

Dillashaw didn’t come off that theory Saturday night after he defeated Garbrandt to retain the UFC bantamweight title at UFC 227 at Staples Center. Dillashaw won with a ferocious flurry in the first round, after dropping Garbrandt initially with a right hook.

“I think he has some technical problems that he needs to fix,” Dillashaw said at UFC 227’s post-fight press conference. “And I really don’t believe he’s got a chin. He plays a dangerous game. He likes to get in there and he likes to slug it.”

Garbrandt caught Dillashaw early with a right hand and rocked him — much like what happened in the first round of their initial encounter last November. And just like the first time, Dillashaw came firing back. In this case, though, the rally came quicker. Dillashaw finished Garbrandt by TKO in the second round in New York. It took him just 4:17 this time.

Dillashaw, 32, said he and his team, including striking coach Duane Ludwig, pinpointed a key technical error that Garbrandt makes and trained to exploit it.

“We were planning on him throwing a right hand,” Dillashaw said. “Every time he throws a right hand, he drops his left. He’s looking to throw a left hook. He’s fast. He throws a big right, left hand. But he drops it to his pocket. So were planning on timing it.”

After the initial drop, Dillashaw came in with a flurry up against the cage and landed many unanswered blows. Several people thought referee Herb Dean could have stepped in sooner. Dillashaw said that was fine with him. This was a grudge match. These two men have history — they trained together at Team Alpha Male — and Dillashaw said he had no issue with how long it went.

“I wasn’t going to let off,” Dillashaw said. “There’s no way. I’m too mean. I’m gonna go until I win. I didn’t have a problem giving him a little extra, too. That knee was a pretty hard knee. I felt that one and that finished him off.

“I’m in too good of shape to let up the throttle. He’s not gonna be able to recover. I’m gonna be able to push the pace always.”

In the first fight, Dillashaw said he was surprised about a kick he landed dropping Garbrandt and leading to a finish. That was where the poor chin theory came from, he said. And Dillashaw believes it was proven again Saturday.

“It wasn’t anything in sparring,” Dillashaw said. “Cody was coming into the team as I was leaving, so we didn’t really get to work out as much as has been in the media. It was more when I hit him in the first fight with my foot. I dropped him with that left kick. I didn’t feel like that left kick had anything on it, but it affected him.”