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T.J. Dillashaw: 'Fingers crossed nothing happens' to stop UFC 217 title fight vs. Cody Garbrandt


UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt made headlines last week when he tweeted he would be fighting T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 217.

For his part, Dillashaw today told MMAjunkie there still is no bout agreement but is hopeful “that’s what’s going to be going down” Nov. 4 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

“Fingers crossed nothing happens,” Dillashaw said. “I’m ready tomorrow, man. I’ve been staying in the gym. That’s what I love to do. I feel lazy when I’m not in the gym. So, yeah, I’m ready to go at 217. And just the fact to be able to fight in Madison Square Garden seems like a huge event.”

It’s shaping up that way with the scheduled return of Georges St-Pierre, who will come out of retirement to fight Michael Bisping for the middleweight championship. A bout between Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) and Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) would add a second title fight to the card.

Garbrandt and Dillashaw have a tenuous history after being teammates for several years at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif. Dillashaw unceremoniously left the gym to train with striking coach Duane Ludwig in Colorado, and the disdain with former teammates has grown thicker ever since.

The feud grew deeper when the pair served as opposing coaches on Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series earlier this year, won by Team Dillashaw’s Jesse Taylor.

Garbrandt was forced to withdraw from their planned UFC 213 bout in July due to a back injury. That caused Dillashaw to seek a shot at Demetrious Johnson’s flyweight title as a backup plan, a fight that UFC President Dana White was on board with booking.

Johnson, who will be going for a record 11th straight UFC title defense, hated the idea, citing the fact that Dillshaw never has competed at 125 pounds. Instead, Johnson will face Ray Borg at next month’s UFC 215.

How things unfolded is just as well with Dillashaw. He’s wanted a shot at Garbrandt all along.

“This is the fight I ultimately wanted,” Dillashaw said. “That was kind of like going for a consolation prize. If I couldn’t get my belt at (135), I want a belt. And I felt like it was a big, hyped-up fight I could’ve pushed with Demetrious. Unfortunately he did not want that. Unfortunately he’s too cerebral of a fighter.

“He knows that’s not a good fight for him and wouldn’t accept it. He’s real worried about this record he needs to break. Go ahead and let him do that, I guess.”

To hear more from Dillashaw, check out the video above.

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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