Why Mighty Mouse vs. Dillashaw Shouldn’t Happen Yet
UFC President Dana White recently confirmed to ESPN that the plan bantamweight title fight between champion Cody Garbrandt and former champion TJ Dillashaw is off UFC 213. Garbrandt is currently dealing with a back injury, and he won’t be ready in time for that fight card anymore. Instead, White revealed that the new plan was now to make flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson defend his belt against the former bantamweight champion right now. On some level, I can see why this is an exciting match-up, and it’s an interesting fight for sure. However, it’s one the UFC definitely shouldn’t make yet, and I will outline the reasons why.
So, there are a number of problems with setting up a prospective flyweight title fight with Dillashaw and Johnson. For starters, Demetrious Johnson wrote on Twitter that he hasn’t agreed to any type of title fight with TJ Dillashaw yet. He’s making it seem like he’s not keen on fighting Dillashaw. Granted, he does sort of have to fight who UFC puts in front of him, but it just goes to show that this fight is far from official. The UFC has already jumped the gun on a number of fights this year. A middleweight title fight was formally announced between Georges St-Pierre and Michael Bisping. And then, the UFC got impatient with how GSP said he wouldn’t be ready until November and called the fight off. Instead, Bisping would fight the rightful No. 1 contender at middleweight, Yoel Romero. Then Michael Bisping revealed he has a bad knee injury and can’t fight this summer. It seems there’s a big lack of communication here between the UFC, fighter management, and the fighters. It’s almost like the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. That seems to be the case yet again with Johnson vs. Dillashaw.
— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouseUFC) May 24, 2017
Shot he can come to flyweight and get a win then get his turn
— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouseUFC) May 24, 2017
Now, maybe this is just a clever ploy by the UFC to gauge interest in this match-up. Honestly, if that was the case, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. On a personal level, I think this is a great match-up. Johnson was a fine fighter at bantamweight and even fought for the title. For Dillashaw, it would be an opportunity to win a title in another weight class. However, the question becomes can Dillashaw even make the weight at 125 pounds? Even if he can, that sounds like it could be a bad weight cut for him. And fighting Johnson for his first flyweight title fight just seems to be a bad move.
Regarding Ray Borg, I don’t think that fight for the flyweight title is a good idea either. Ariel Helwani made the point on the MMA Beat if Dillashaw can make the weight, then Johnson loses his chance to defend his belt for the 11th time and break the world record. Well, that chance is equally possible with Ray Borg. Dillashaw may have never made 125 pounds during his combat sport career, but he’s never missed weight either. Ray Borg has failed to make flyweight multiple times in the UFC. It doesn’t really matter if he has a new nutritionist team and all that. He’s still missed weight twice. Also, let’s stop pretending that Ray Borg has some amazing claim to a title shot. He hardly boasts an outstanding record either. Ray Borg is 11-2, and he’s 5-2 in the UFC. It’s a winning record, sure, but it’s hardly some earth-shattering elite level title contender record. He’s only on a two-fight winning streak right now, and he failed to make weight for one of those wins. So basically, I would say Johnson vs. Borg is the wrong fight to make as well.
Honestly, I see no rush to book Johnson in a title fight at all at UFC 213. Johnson just defended the belt last month. I would say there is a far better title eliminator on the horizon between Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno. That fight is set to take place at UFC Fight Night 114 in August. Both men are on three-fight winning streaks at flyweight in the UFC right now. The winner would be on a 4-0 run in the division. So, just make that your title eliminator right there. I’d hardly call it unfair if Ray Borg were passed over. Ray Borg has just won one actual fight at flyweight recently and he’s only won two in a row. That’s hardly a title-clinching run. Not to mention the fact that Borg is only in that position because Mighty Mouse is so dominant and has beaten up everyone else. The guy who has the biggest winning streak right now at flyweight right now is Joseph Benavidez. The problem? Johnson has already defeated him twice before in UFC title bouts. So of course, the UFC is not keen to book that rematch for a third time. That is unless you simply wanted to book the fight for a third time to give Benavidez an opportunity he technically “deserves” and get Johnson up for his 11th prospective title defense.
But my proposal means giving Johnson a little more time off. Instead, he would face the winner of Pettis vs. Moreno later this year. Are Pettis vs. Moreno not ready? Well, I don’t see how they would be any less ready than 5-2 Ray Borg only boasts one legitimate win at flyweight in his current run. If you complain that Ray Borg is too young and inexperienced, well he’s 23. Ray Borg’s age? 23. Ray Borg has 13 pro fights on his record. How many does Moreno actually have? 17. Also, Moreno has never failed to make weight in the UFC either.
But let’s also make something clear. Certain analysts in the media are ready to declare Johnson as the record breaker for the most title defenses. He hasn’t secured that record-breaking run yet. No matter what, he still has to get in the cage someone and beat them to make that happen. Even if it ends up being Ray Borg, there’s still a chance he could lose and his hopes for a record-breaking run would be over. So, even if there is a sense of manufacturing that record-breaking run for Johnson, you can’t necessarily force it to happen either. This isn’t pro wrestling. Sure, Johnson has been dominant all the way up until now and looked unbeatable. But so was Ronda Rousey when she was champion, and no one really predicted or expected her to lose to Holly Holm either. My decision here is less about what’s fair in allowing Johnson to defend his belt for an 11th time and more about what makes sense for both the flyweight and bantamweight divisions.
The other major problem is that if Dillashaw fights Johnson now, that basically kills his title fight with Garbrandt. The UFC has already invested considerable time and effort for that fight with The Ultimate Fighter. They should try and at least see that fight to its fruition. I’m sure Dillashaw would be OK with waiting a little while as long as he keeps his title fight. I’m not saying to make them weight forever. If Garbrandt needs even more time off, then go from there. But, it just seems silly to completely cancel that fight right now instead of postponing it. Plus, if Dillashaw were to win the flyweight title and then not defend it like Conor McGregor, that would put that whole division in a tailspin and cause a mess a lot like what has happened at both featherweight and lightweight. We really don’t need to see that happen again.
So, let’s not jump the gun on announcing new match-ups just to announce them. There’s still definitely an injury problem in the UFC that needs to be addressed. I’ve pointed this out in the past, and it makes people angry. But these greatly desired fights are going to continue falling off and people are going to lose confidence in the MMA promoters if the problem is not addressed at all. However, a solution is not necessarily to just conjure together a new replacement “super-fight” without even consulting the fighters and champions about the match-ups either. The UFC should hold off on booking a fight like Johnson vs. Dillashaw as enticing as it is. That’s not even a big money super-fight anyway.