Who Should Be Considered The Greatest Bantamweight In UFC History?
The UFC’s 135 pound division has produced some of the most talented fighters over the years. With names like Urijah Faber, Renan Barao, Jens Pulver, and Cody Garbrant it’s not hard to see why. Two names stand above this division and those names are Dominick Cruz and TJ Dillashaw. In regards to who is the greatest 135er of all time these two are the only ones in the debate. So who do I think should be considered the greatest 135er of all time, well I’m about to break it down.
Dominick Cruz: Cruz was the inaugural UFC bantamweight champion. He beat UFC hall of famer Urijah Faber in the first ever UFC 135 pound championship fight. Cruz would only make one title defense after that only to vacate the belt due to injury. When Cruz came back to the UFC he had an impressive round 1 knockout over Takeya Mizugaki. This win put him right back in the title picture and he was rewarded a title fight against the young champion TJ Dillashaw. The fight was very close but Cruz was given the split decision win in the end making him a two time bantamweight champion. Cruz would go on to finish his rivalry against Urijah Faber, beating him again at UFC 199. The rivalry between Cruz and Faber was over, but the rivalry between Cruz and Team Alpha Male was still very much alive. UFC 207 was headlined by the big return of Ronda Rousey. For many UFC fans (including myself) the more highly anticipated fight was between Cruz and undefeated Team Alpha Male member Cody Garbrant. Garbrant dominated Cruz in the fight and became only the 4th man in UFC history to hold the bantamweight championship. Cruz has been dealing with injuries ever since and has yet to return to action.
TJ Dillashaw: The night TJ Dillashaw won the belt he was one of the biggest underdogs in UFC history. Renan Barao was on an absolute tear as UFC bantamweight champion. That was until he met young Team Alpha Male standout TJ Dillashaw. Dillashaw dominated Barao for all five rounds, and even finished Barao in round number 5. UFC commentator Joe Rogan said he was very impressed with TJ Dillashaw’s calmness and composure in his first UFC title fight. Dilishaw would go on to defend the belt two more times, once against Joe Soto and in a rematch against Renan Barao. Dilishaw then took on Dominick Cruz and lost the belt via split decision. Dillashaw was not given an immediate rematch and ran through the ranks of the UFC’s Bantamweight division. Eventually Dillashaw was given another title shot against former teammate and now rival Cody Garbrant. The fight was back and fourth and Garbrant even knocked down Dillashaw in round 1. Dillashaw kept his composure and went on to knockout Cody Garbrant in round number 2. Dillashaw became a two time bantamweight champion, and was also the first man to beat Garbrant. The two met again at UFC 227 and this time it only took Dillashaw one round to beat Garbrant.
WHO’S THE GREATEST?: Both Cruz and Dillashaw are so close when it comes to style. Both men have unbelievable footwork and very high fight IQs. Cruz does have a victory over Dillashaw but when it comes to who should be considered the greatest of all time I think as of right now the nod should go to TJ Dillashaw. Dillashaw’s finishing ability and his two wins over Garbrant put him above every other 135er in UFC history. If Cruz was more active he could easily be considered the greatest. Needless to say I think it’s time for a rematch between these two bantamweight greats.
Stephen Caloggero (@steveo_calo)