Things didn’t look too good for T.J. Dillashaw at the end of the opening round against Cody Garbrandt on Saturday night at UFC 217.
Garbrandt, defending his UFC bantamweight title against his former Team Alpha Male teammate and current rival at New York’s Madison Square Garden, dropped Dillashaw with a wicked counter right hand to the jaw in the closing seconds.
If it wasn’t for the horn, Garbrandt might have finished the fight. Instead, Dillashaw rallied for a sensational finish in the second round. The time of the stoppage was 2:41 as Dillashaw became a two-time bantamweight titleholder.
“This belt was around my waist the whole time in my head,” said Dillashaw (15-3), who won for the seventh time in his past eight fights. “[Flyweight champ] Demetrious Johnson, I’m coming for you, you’ve got that record that’s fake, you dodged me, and I’m coming for that belt and you know it.”
Dillashaw managed to recover in between rounds after the near-finish and get his head back into the fight. Garbrandt taunted Dillashaw matador-style after he slipped under a Dillashaw head kick. But the taunting between the two former Team Alpha Male teammates turned rivals stopped when Dillashaw rocked Garbrandt with a wicked head kick that landed on the ear.
From there, it was a matter of time until the fight was waved off, as Garbrandt (11-1) lost for the first time in his career.
“He’s a hell of a fighter, he’s young, he’s going to be back,” Dillashaw said of Garbrandt. “The kid’s tough, he hits hard. You can condition your chin. I got caught with a big right but I bounced right back.”
Dillashaw previously held the title from May 2014, when he defeated Renan Barao, until January 2016, when he lost a decision to Dominick Cruz, who then lost the title to Garbrandt.