T.J. Dillashaw was disappointed that he didn’t get an immediate rematch with Dominick Cruz. However, the former UFC bantamweight champion can take solace in the fact that he got the next best fight available at the best date possible.
Taking A loss Back
On Tuesday, the UFC announced that DIllashaw will be facing Raphael Assuncao at the historic UFC 200 event on July 9 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. It will mark the second meeting between the combatants. Dillashaw and Assuncao went the three round distance in a UFC Fight Night event in 2013. Assuncao got the judges nod and won via controversial split decision.
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On the other hand, Dillashaw and most of the MMA world believe he did enough to beat Assuncao. Although Dillashaw used that loss as a springboard to capturing the UFC bantamweight title in 2014, it never sat well with him. Now he has the opportunity to take that one back.
Prior to losing to Dominick Cruz via split decision last January, Dillashaw won four fights in a row, including two decisive stoppage victories over former champ Renan Barao. The former Team Alpha male standout is 12-3 overall with 6 KOs and 3 submissions. Dillashaw hold notable wins over Barao ( 2x), Mike Easton and Joe Soto.
Injury Riddled Road
While Dillashaw’s career soared after that UFC Fight Night 29 loss in 2013, Assuncao’s road to the title has been riddled with injuries. After beating Bryan Caraway at UFC Fight Night 54, an ankle injury was slow to heal and forced Assuncao off a 2015 bout with Urijah Faber.
A couple of months later, Assuncao announced that he would undergo surgery on the injured ankle and he targeted a return by the end of 2015. His comeback has been pushed farther and by the time he returns to face Dillashaw again in July, he would have been out of action for 20 months. Injuries aside, Assuncao has won 7 fights in a row and has not lost since being knocked out by Eric Koch at UFC 128 in March 2011.
Dillashaw has been an odds on favorite in nine of his last ten bouts, the exception being his UFC 173 title challenge of Barao. During their first encounter, Dillashaw was a -265 favorite over a +185 Assuncao. Although the lines have not been set yet, Dillashaw is expected to open as a big favorite to get his revenge and redemption over Assuncao.