TJ Dillashaw may have dethroned Renan Barao a year ago, but Saturday night’s UFC on FOX 16 was when the champ put all doubts to rest. He nearly killed Barao, and Barao was the champ for so long it’s hard to imagine a bantamweight division where he’s not ranked at the top.
Which, leaves us with a pretty obvious – and important – question: Who should Dillashaw fight next?
There are some clear choices, rematches that could serve as a chance for the champ to erase the few blemishes on his record. But there are also compelling matches that exist outside of the weight class. Here’s a list!
- Raphael Assuncao – Back in 2013, Assuncao battled past Dillashaw to get a split decision. This was the Team Alpha Male’s last loss before going on his present tear, so this bout makes the most sense.
- John Dodson – Dillashaw was a finalist for TUF 14, but lost top honors when Dodson TKO’d him at the finale. Dodson has to worry about flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson next, but win or lose, a rematch with Dillashaw could be appealing.
- Demetrious Johnson – The 125-pound champ has fought in the heavier weight class before, and if he stops Dodson, he will have effectively cleaned out his division. Why not make a superfight between him and the 135-pound champ?
- Urijah Faber – Yes, they’re teammates, but Dillashaw is clearly a Duane “Bang” Ludwig disciple, and there seems to be some acrimony between Faber and Bang. Maybe that makes for a good storyline in the cage?
- Thomas Almeida – He’s young and still clawing his way up, but Almeida has looked hella impressive thus far. His explosive striking and hard head might actuall give Dillashaw trouble.
- Dominick Cruz – In an ideal world, this would be at the top of the list, but this world isn’t ideal. Cruz has been absolutely PLAGUED by ACL injuries, so I have zero hope he’d ever be able to face Dillashaw. Zero. It would be great if he did, though – am I right?