The fight that made the most sense for Honda Center on Jan. 26 is happening.
The UFC announced Monday that bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw of Yorba Linda will seek to become the third simultaneous two-division champion in organization history when he meets new flyweight champion Henry Cejudo.
“I would say it’s going to be some work [to cut from the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds to 125] but I’m excited about the work and I feel I’ll be in even better shape,” Dillashaw said. “It’s going to favor me.
“I’m going to continue to grow my legacy and this is just a stepping stone along the way. I believe I’m the greatest fighter on this planet right now and I’m going to continue to show it.”
Dillashaw (16-3), who most recently fought in August and defended his belt with a repeat knockout of former champion Cody Garbrandt at Staples Center, had previously pushed to meet long-reigning flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in a super-fight.
Johnson balked, then was edged by decision by Cejudo on the same Staples Center card, and has now moved on to Japan’s One Championship circuit.
Cejudo, born in Los Angeles, became a U.S. Olympic gold medalist in wrestling and avenged a prior loss to Johnson to become the UFC champion by out-wrestling him and ending his record run of 11 consecutive title defenses.
Cejudo (13-2) later said on ESPN that he believed he can manhandle Dillashaw the same way at UFC 233.
“You’ll lose that weight. How good are you truly going to feel?” Cejudo said.
Dillashaw is seeking to join current light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and 2016 featherweight-lightweight champion Conor McGregor as the only UFC fighters to actively wear two belts at once.
The UFC has given indications it may fold the flyweight division after this fight. Cejudo has admitted his push for more purse money to challenge Dillashaw at 135 pounds was rejected, leading to the fight being for his belt. The UFC has released several flyweights in recent weeks, and Cejudo has said previously he could comfortably fight at bantamweight.
Although Dillashaw-Cejudo seems like a natural for main-event placement, the UFC hasn’t made the designation official yet.
Dillashaw is thrilled to be fighting so close to home. He said he’s relocating his gym to Orange, where he can see the “Big A.”
“It’s around a win-win, a meant-to-be situation,” Dillashaw said.
The welterweight debut of former One Championship champion Ben Askren versus former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler is also expected to be placed on the card.