What sounded like a promising idea — the placement of three title fights between six UFC champions on one card — appears to have lost an entrant.
UFC President Dana White said in a Thursday text message to the Los Angeles Times that a bout between flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw “is not happening.”
“It was never made. Plus, D.J. is hurt and out for a while,” White texted, adding, “we are working on” an alternate title defense for Orange County’s Dillashaw, who recaptured the belt in November by defeating Cody Garbrandt at Madison Square Garden.
Heavweight champion Stipe Miocic will make his record fourth title defense July 7 at UFC 226 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas against light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
The placement of that bout spawned speculation that a Johnson-Dillashaw bout could be added to the card along with an anticipated clash between women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg and Brazilian countrywoman Amanda Nunes, the bantamweight champion.
But Nunes has a May 12 UFC 224 main-event bout to complete against Raquel Pennington, making a turnaround on July 7 possible only if Nunes emerges unscathed from the bout.
White was referencing Johnson’s January shoulder surgery with the injury talk. The flyweight champion has operated with less fanfare and pay-per-view appreciation than fellow champions, even as he’s made a UFC-record 11 consecutive title defenses.
While Johnson has pushed for comparative pay, White has pointed back to the limited interest. White gave no indication this decision is connected to that past bickering.
White gave no indication of who he’s considering next for Dillashaw, but a rematch with Garbrandt would be appetizing. Dillashaw lost his belt to San Diego’s Dominick Cruz, but he hasn’t fought since December 2016.