UFC 227-A pair of rematches headline the Staples Center card...one intriguing, one not so much
T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt are set to renew their heated rivalry this weekend in an immediate rematch of their thrilling fight last year at Madison Square Garden.
Dillashaw (15-3) looks to extend his second title run as bantamweight champion when he faces his bitter rival, Cody Garbrandt (11-1) after their much-publicized drama over Dillashaw's exit from Team Alpha Male.
Dillashaw relinquished the title in a razor-thin loss to Dominick Cruz in 2016.
Garbrandt would proceed to dominate Cruz at UFC 207 to claim the title before suffering his first loss to Dillashaw.
The build-up to this rematch has been somewhat low-key after the back and forth between the former teammates in their initial fight.
Garbrandt clearly has been somewhat subdued compared to his trash talk for the last fight, but there's not much he can say after being knocked out by Dillashaw in the second round.
Garbrandt subsequently dealt with back issues but has now declared himself to be in full health.
Dillashaw was able to survive the first fight after almost being knocked out by Garbrandt in the first round when Garbrandt missed a left hook that might have sealed the win while Dillashaw was falling from another shot absorbed by Dillashaw and was saved by the bell seconds later.
After the near scare, Dillashaw was able to overcome the knockdown to land a flush shot of his own that dropped "No Love" and was able to finish Garbrandt with uncontested shots before the referee waved off the fight.
The exciting first fight showcased how close in skill both fighters are and the rematch should be just as compelling.
Should Garbrandt pull out the victory, a trilogy fight would not surprise anyone, but the elephant in the room has always been the champion in the co-main event, Demetrious Johnson.
There has been more talk about a possible "Super Fight" between Johnson (27-2-1) and Dillashaw in the promotion for this card and Garbrandt himself has thrown his hat into the mix.
Dillashaw has been anxious to get Johnson to agree to a fight at flyweight, but Johnson hasn't received a monetary offer from the UFC that satisfies his demands.
The UFC and the public have been quick to shift the blame on the fight not materializing on Johnson for not accepting the fight against Dillashaw, but Johnson has openly stated he only wants to be compensated fairly, which could be an issue as the UFC does not see Johnson as someone that can draw big pay-per-view numbers and his track record welcomes that argument.
Johnson is seeking his 12th consecutive title defense, which is already a UFC record.
Most consider Johnson the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC and his domination of the flyweight division should be lauded but it actually appears to have become a detriment as his fights have become almost foregone conclusions before the opening bell.
Johnson has every right to make whatever financial demands he seeks but it might be time for him to take a risk and move up to the bantamweight division.
A move up in weight would ensure him a crop of new contenders and fights that would appeal to both the UFC and the fans.
Fights against Dillashaw, Garbrandt, or even Dominick Cruz should be able to satisfy his financial demands and would peek the public's interest in watching him fight again.
Cruz is the last man to give Johnson a loss, back in 2011.
Johnson's legacy as one of the greatest mixed martial artists in history is secure and his credentials cannot be denied, but do you really want to see Johnson vs. Benavidez 3?
I know I don't.