T.J. Dillashaw was pretty furious after UFC Brooklyn.
The UFC bantamweight champion felt he was robbed, his flyweight title fight against Henry Cejudo stopped far too early Saturday night at Barclays Center in the main event of the first-ever UFC card on ESPN+. Cejudo, the 125-pound champ, clipped Dillashaw in the openings seconds and continued to flurry with Dillashaw struggling to defend. Referee Kevin MacDonald called it at the 32-second mark.
Dillashaw said he was caught behind the ear, was perhaps a bit wobbly, but far from rocked and not at all out of the fight.
“Sucks to have it stolen from me,” Dillashaw said at the post-fight press conference. “I worked my butt off. I’m so much better than that. It would be nice to actually get the chance to show it. It’s a title fight, it’s a champ versus champ fight and you’re gonna stop the fight like that? I’m on a single leg. He says, ‘Show me something.’ I said, ‘I’m OK.’ I’m on a single leg in a scramble, he stops punching, he’s defending a single leg and you’re gonna stop the fight? It’s just ridiculous, man. It’s pretty pathetic that I have better knowledge than that ref.”
Dillashaw (16-4) said he wants to run it back with Cejudo, again for the flyweight title and that the UFC should “make it right.”
“As you can tell, I’m a little frustrated,” Dillashaw said. “This shit needs to happen again — at flyweight. This is bullshit. I worked my ass off 12 weeks to get here to have it stolen from me in 30 seconds.”
Dillashaw, 32, dropped down in weight from 135 to 125 to challenge Cejudo. It was a chance for him to further his legacy and become one of only four fighters in UFC history to hold two titles in different weight classes simultaneously. He made the weight with aplomb Friday, despite many doubters. But the performance in the cage did not come to fruition and he believes it was ripped from him. Dillashaw said it the early issues had nothing to do with the weight cut.
“I actually felt better,” Dillashaw said. “I have no excuses of why. I seriously came in, I felt great, man. I felt really good. Energy level was good. I thought it was gonna be fireworks for me tonight. just, I had that feeling. But I got dealt a shitty card.”
Afterward, Dillashaw said he congratulated Cejudo, but he is questioning how he could celebrate so much after a victory like that. Cejudo, though, said he believed MacDonald made the right call. UFC president Dana White gave his opinion, too, calling it a “horrible” stoppage.
“How could you be that f*cking happy over that win?” Dillashaw said. “Obviously, he did not lose his belt, he’s gonna feed his family, pay his bills. Good for him. Be happy, yes. But I wouldn’t be happy winning that way, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t call myself the champ champ, I wouldn’t call myself the double champ winning that way.”
At one point in the press conference, Dillashaw almost broke down and cried. This was an important fight for him. He has been wanting to go down and was in talks to do so against Demetrious Johnson, then the best pound-for-pound in the world, last year. Cejudo beat Johnson in August and this fight got put together. It was a victory, had he achieved it, that Dillashaw believed would further his legacy and cement him as one of the best UFC fighters of all time.
“I’m pretty effin’ bitter right now,” Dillashaw said. “I’m pretty pissed off. I worked my ass off, bro. I’m about to fuckin’ cry. I put in a lot of work. And I don’t know, man. It’s tough.”
Cejudo wants to go up to 135 and challenge for Dillashaw’s title now. Dillashaw is adamant that he wants another shot at 125. White was non-committal about the future for both and the UFC’s flyweight division is still on the verge of elimination.
The UFC’s first ESPN+ card main event left all involved with more questions than answers. None more than Dillashaw, who was irate at the stoppage.
“I am leaps and bounds better than Henry Cejudo,” Dillashaw said. “I greatly believe that. But unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to prove it.”