Former UFC champion TJ Dillashaw is not happy.
For starters, he believes he's still the rightful owner of the UFC's 135-pound title. Every time he re-watches his five-round, split-decision loss to Dominick Cruz on Jan. 17, he scores it for himself. Of course he sees areas to improve, but Dillashaw feels he still landed the more effective strikes on Cruz and pushed the action. He thought the fourth and fifth rounds, widely dubbed championship rounds, were decisively in his favor.
Unfortunately for Dillashaw (12-3), two of the three judges cageside that night disagreed and awarded the belt to Cruz. And then last week, the UFC announced that Cruz would face Urijah Faber in a trilogy bout at UFC 199 on June 4.
So, not only is Dillashaw not the champ, following last week's announcement, he's not even the No. 1 contender.
"I flew to Las Vegas and met with [UFC CEO] Lorenzo Fertitta to plead my case," Dillashaw told ESPN.com. "They entertained the idea of an immediate rematch. They said they'd let me know in two weeks -- then I found out on social media Faber got the fight.
"I'm pretty pissed. Faber isn't deserving. The only way this guy has stayed relevant during the last year is talking s--- about me. It's unfortunate everything has become more about entertainment than sport. I just had a very competitive fight with Cruz. I don't think Faber has a chance. I hope he does win, but it's all about giving him his last title shot now. I think the UFC feels they can't give him another fight before then and expect him to win."
Faber (33-8) is a former teammate of Dillashaw and has a long-standing rivalry with Cruz (21-1). The two have split two previous meetings in 2007 and 2011. They were supposed to meet a third time in 2012, before Cruz was hit with a long list of injuries.
Dillashaw understands the value in Faber's popularity, but that doesn't soften the blow of getting passed over himself -- especially when he feels he has done right by the UFC ever since joining the company five years ago.
Dillashaw won the bantamweight title in May 2014 with a dominant performance over a heavily favored Renan Barao. Despite the lopsided nature of the bout, Dillashaw agreed to face the Brazilian in an immediate rematch in August. One day prior to the fight, Barao passed out trying to make weight and was pulled from the event. Dillashaw agreed to save the event and put the belt on the line against a new opponent, Joe Soto, on 24 hours' notice.
"I gave Barao the quickest rematch in UFC history, when he didn't deserve it," Dillashaw said. "When he missed weight, I took a new opponent on short notice. Lorenzo called, begging me to take a fight on 24 hours. I stepped up.
"I got to fight for my hometown and put on a show at that event, which was great, but I never got a thank you from the UFC for doing it. Never got a bonus for it."
Although he's disappointed in the UFC's matchmaking, Dillashaw, 30, says he is not opposed to accepting another fight in the meantime. He has been out of the gym lately because of a fractured hand and foot, but those injuries shouldn't keep him sidelined long. He has also been dedicating time to a partnership with a nutritional company, which offers educational programs to amateur wrestlers on proper weight cutting.
Whatever fight Dillashaw books next, he says he intends to be in shape on June 4 as well -- in the event circumstances call for it.
"I'm going to be ready and in shape if one of those guys gets hurt," Dillashaw said. "One of them is old and one of them is constantly hurt, so, you know, I've got a good chance.
"The UFC is the greatest fight promotion in the world, but I'm very disappointed in their decision on this. I had hoped they'd care more about what I'd done in the past for this company, but I guess not. Now, a fight that makes sense for me would probably be Raphael Assuncao. I know he's dealing with some injuries but he's got a split-decision win [in 2013] against me in a fight everyone thought I won. It would be nice to get that win back."