TJ Dillashaw reclaims bantamweight title with 2nd-round KO of Cody Garbrandt

NEW YORK — One of the most anticipated grudge matches of the year lived up to the hype on Saturday — and it was TJ Dillashaw who had the final say.

Dillashaw (15-3) knocked out Cody Garbrandt at 2:41 of the second round in their bantamweight title fight, reclaiming the 135-pound championship he lost in early 2016. The 135-pound title fight headlined UFC 217 inside Madison Square Garden.

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It was an emotional matchup, as Dillashaw used to train alongside Garbrandt (11-1) at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento. Dillashaw left the team in 2015 on bad terms.

The finish came shortly after Dillashaw dropped Garbrandt with a right hand in the pocket. Garbrandt tried to scramble up, but Dillashaw followed him to the floor and put him away.

After the referee stepped in, Dillashaw stayed next to Garbrandt and screamed toward him. The two shook hands, however, after the result was read.

“I was just yelling,” Dillashaw said. “I was just excited. He stood up, and I was just yelling. Congratulations [to Garbrandt], man. He’s a helluva fighter. He’s young. I’ll see him again. This isn’t the end of Cody Garbrandt.”

From there, Dillashaw called out dominant 125-pound flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, whom he tried to fight earlier this year, but Johnson preferred another matchup.

“Demetrious Johnson, I’m coming for you,” Dillashaw said. “I’m breaking you. You dodged me. I’m getting that belt at 125.”

The finish was made all the more impressive by the fact that Dillashaw was badly hurt in the first round.

In fact, Dillashaw might have been saved by the bell in the opening round. Garbrandt dropped him with a clean right hand and was following up with punches as the bell sounded. Dillashaw wobbled back to his corner, but he recovered well in between rounds.

Moments into the second round, Dillashaw turned the tide with a left head kick that put Garbrandt down. The defending champ popped back up, but the strike gave Dillashaw confidence.

It is the first loss of Garbrandt’s career. Dillashaw, who trains in Los Angeles, has now won seven of eight.

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