Dillashaw on title win, Assuncao, Faber
Newly crowned UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw couldn’t talk long Thursday. He had an afternoon meeting scheduled with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.
A Sacramento resident, Dillashaw (10-2) is still riding the wave of his stunning TKO win over Renan Barao for the UFC bantamweight title in Las Vegas on Saturday.
In addition to a summons from the mayor of Sacramento, Dillashaw has blown up on social media since the performance. The Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist, Flea, contacted the fighter on Twitter and mentioned his walk-out to the band’s song “Can’t Stop.”
Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Jonny Manziel, who attended the fight in Las Vegas (which became big news itself) also sent a congratulatory post.
“It’s crazy how many people watched the fight,” Dillashaw told ESPN.com. “I’ve been fighting on the undercards. It’s nothing like a PPV. People I’ve looked up to hit me up on Twitter.
“Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers -- I’ve been watching that guy since forever.”
Tied to the celebration, however, is a nonstop line of questioning regarding whom Dillashaw will fight next. This is, after all, still mixed martial arts.
“It’s the same as all my other fights,” Dillashaw said. “Seriously, as soon as you get done with a fight and you’re walking through the tunnel, you talk to reporters about who you want to fight next.
“It’s like, ‘Man. I’ve been thinking about the guy I just fought for the last 10 weeks.’ Especially Renan Barao. I had been thinking about him for a long time. Obviously, my goal is to defend the belt and there are a couple of guys on a win streak.”
One of the options Dillashaw refers to is Raphael Assuncao, who outpointed Dillashaw in a controversial split decision in October in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Assuncao (22-4) is still on the mend from a rib injury but should be ready to go by autumn of this year.
I definitely wouldn't mind that fight. I feel like I beat the guy anyway, so I might as well get that victory on my record. I felt like I got cheated on that one. It wouldn't be a bad idea to finish him up."
-- TJ Dillashaw, on a possible rematch with Raphael Assuncao
That’s a fight Dillashaw wants, although this time he’d like it in the U.S.
“I traveled to Brazil and fought him,” Dillashaw said. “Let’s have him travel up here. If that fight happens, the fact that I’m the champion, let him come here.
“I definitely wouldn’t mind that fight. I feel like I beat the guy anyway, so I might as well get that victory on my record. I felt like I got cheated on that one. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to finish him up.”
An immediate rematch with Barao (32-2) remains a possibility, although Dillashaw isn’t in favor of it since the first fight wasn’t close. Takeya Mizugaki (20-7-2) is also on a five-fight win streak.
Of course, one option that will likely continue to pop up is Dillashaw's teammate and close friend Urijah Faber, who is scheduled to fight Alex Caceres at UFC 175 in July.
Faber (30-7) is coming off a first-round TKO loss to Barao in a UFC title fight earlier this year, but that didn’t prevent the topic of an all Team Alpha Male title fight from being broached last weekend.
Dillashaw says that’s obviously not a fight he wants, but if the UFC eventually wants to make it, the organization would have to provide extra incentive.
“I’ve had that conversation with him way before I was in title contention,” Dillashaw said. “I’ve always said I don’t want to fight the guy. He’s one of my best friends. [UFC president] Dana White likes that kind of stuff. It adds drama.
“I feel like if they want us to do that, we should get paid more. If they were to throw an option on the table I can’t pass up, all right. Urijah, let’s do this.
“It has to be, ‘I can see myself fighting Urijah for that. That motivates me enough to want to fight him.' You’ve got to give me a reason to want to fight him.”