Everything You Need to Know About the Rivalry Between TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt

Published 07/21/2021, 1:27 PM EDT
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 04: TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt face off during their UFC bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 217 event at Madison Square Garden on November 4, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Widely considered as one of the greatest rivalries in the UFC’s bantamweight division, TJ Dillashaw vs Cody Garbrandt had it all. Apart from being two of the most elite fighters in the division, both shared an extremely dramatic and tumultuous history prior to their first meeting at UFC 217.  


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Both TJ and Garbrandt were Alpha male teammates, training together at the Sacramento, California-based gym. However, things got ugly between the two after Dillashaw chose to follow his long-time mentor and coach, Duane Ludwig, to Colorado and join the Elevation fight team.  

Their contempt for each other became even more apparent following their infamous scuffle on the Ultimate Fighter: Redemption, at the end of which, the two finally got the chance to duke it out in the octagon.   


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TJ Dillashaw vs Cody Garbrandt 1   

Coming off a flawless victory against Dominick Cruz to capture the bantamweight title, Cody Garbrandt was in a great position to deal with Dillashaw.

TJ, on the other hand, worked his way back into title contention after losing the championship, hoping to get the belt wrapped around his waist for a second time.  


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With the fight underway, both fighters used most of the first round to gauge the distance and make essential reads. However, with just ten seconds remaining in the first round, the heavy-handed Garbrandt managed to knock Dillashaw down with a perfectly timed right hand on the chin, sending the former champion back to his corner on wobbly legs.  

Having had enough time to recover between rounds, TJ came out recognizing the danger in wildly exchanging with Garbrandt.

Instead of making the same mistake twice, the 31-year-old made sure to set up his strikes with speedy kicks, even landing a solid left-high kick. 

With barely two mins left in the second round, the former champ caught Garbrandt with a stunning right hook and jumped on the opportunity to finish him off with some ground strikes.  

TJ Dillashaw vs Cody Garbrandt 2     

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 04: (L-R) Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw trade punches in their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 227 event inside Staples Center on August 4, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

With their animosity at an all-time high, the two quickly agreed to fight for a second time at UFC 227. Unfortunately for Cody, the results weren’t any different.

Dillashaw seemed to be getting the better of his opponent right from the start, eventually landing a right hook reminiscent of the first fight to secure an impressive first-round stoppage.

Cody’s inability to control his emotions seemed to have gotten the best of him yet again, effectively erasing all possibilities for a trilogy fight.

TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt: Where are they now?   

Having racked up back-to-back wins against his long-time rival, TJ Dillashaw quickly set his eyes on being a double champ challenging the then Flyweight Champion Henry Cejudo.  

Following a visibly challenging weight cut, TJ stepped into the octagon at UFC Fight Night 143 only to be stopped by the former Olympian within half a minute of the first round due to strikes.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, TJ soon found himself facing a 2-year suspension from USADA after testing positive for a banned substance called Erythropoietin (EPO)

 Similarly, Cody Garbrandt’s fighting career has been on somewhat of a downward spiral following his bouts against TJ Dillashaw. Losing two of his last three fights, ‘No love’ seems unable to make the necessary adjustments to get back on the winning track.

His lackluster performance against Rob Font exposed the gaping holes in his standup, further pushing him down in the official rankings.   


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With TJ’s suspension coming to an end, the 35-year-old is set to compete in a title eliminator at UFC fight night this weekend against former teammate, Cory Sandhagen.  

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 04: TJ Dillashaw celebrates after his knockout victory over Cody Garbrandt in their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 227 event inside Staples Center on August 4, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

While many have questioned the former champ’s decision to get back right into the mix with a top-ranked opponent, Dillashaw doesn’t seem concerned about problems like ring rust and will hope to make a statement in his comeback fight. 


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As time has passed, both TJ and Cody have had their share of issues to figure out. The fact that TJ Dillashaw tested positive for a performance enhancer has certainly cast doubt on his achievements in the UFC.

Perhaps if Cody manages to get back on a winning streak, a third fight between the two is inevitable. What do you think?  

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David Andrew

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