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T.J. Dillashaw: ‘I bet I make weight easier’ than Henry Cejudo at UFC on ESPN+

LOS ANGELES — The question over the last few weeks has been, will T.J. Dillashaw successfully make weight to fight Henry Cejudo for the UFC flyweight title on the promotion’s ESPN+ debut card? On Monday, Dillashaw turned the tables.

The UFC bantamweight champion, who is making the drop down to 125 pounds for the first time in MMA, threw some shade at Cejudo’s own ability to make weight. Cejudo, the flyweight champ, missed weight and had weight-cutting issues several times earlier in his career.

“He’s missed weight,” Dillashaw said. “He’s had trouble making weight. He’s had trouble making 125s. I bet I make weight easier than he does. Because of how professional I am.”

Dillashaw and Cejudo will meet in the main event of the card Saturday in Brooklyn. It is the debut of the UFC’s new distribution deal with ESPN. Some of the card will air on the big network, while the main card, including the title headliner, is native to the ESPN+ streaming service.

Dillashaw, 32, said he started incrementally shedding pounds 12 weeks ago, as soon as he learned the fight would be at 125 pounds, not for his 135-pound title, which was the initial plan. Dillashaw works with strength and conditioning coach Sam Calavitta in Orange County, Calif., who he describes as a “mad scientist.”

Calavitta is using algorithms to get Dillashaw down to the flyweight limit. And Dillashaw says the planning has worked out perfectly. Though people have been surprised to see how lean Dillashaw already looks on social media, he says he feels as good as ever.

“Yeah, of course I’m gonna be skinny,” Dillashaw said. “I’m going down a weight class. If I were to wait and crash all the weight the last night, I’d look better throughout camp. I’d look more normal. … Then I would have to crash at the end and my performance wouldn’t be as good. So I’m more worried about the performance.”

Dillashaw (16-3) said he woke up Monday morning at 135 pounds, which is actually closer to 125 pounds five days out of weigh-ins than he usually is to 135 pounds at this same juncture. Dillashaw says he’s usually about 150 pounds five days out from a fight at 135.

Even when the the fight with Cejudo got changed from Jan. 26 in Anaheim, Calif., nearby Dillashaw’s home, to Brooklyn on Jan. 19, it didn’t alter things too much, he said.

“Luckily, at that point in time when I did get the phone call, I was ahead of schedule,” Dillashaw said. “I still had to call and check with my coach (Calavitta), like, ‘Hey, is this something we should do?’ He’s a calculus teacher. He’s very scientific with how he does everything.”

So, while Dillashaw knows this will be a storyline going into Friday’s official weigh-ins, he himself is not stressing about it. He said it actually hasn’t been as difficult as he thought it would be.

“It’s not an issue,” Dillashaw said. “Actually, I always knew I could make the weight, but I’m surprised at how good I feel trying to get down there. But it’s because of how professional I took it. I mean, the weight cut is already over. Now it’s just some tricks to get the last weight dropped now. The weight cut is over. My diet has been strict, my workout routine has been strict. I’m lean and everyone thinks I’m lying, but I’m stronger now than I was last camp.”

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