T.J. Dillashaw defended his bantamweight title with a vicious first-round stoppage of former champ Cody Garbrandt at Staples Center in the main event of UFC 227, beating his friend-turned-rival for the second time in nine months.
Dillashaw (17-3) exchanged furious strikes with Garbrandt (11-2) from the opening minute. Dillashaw finished it by stunning Garbrandt with a series of blows, dropping the challenger and then battering him against the cage until referee Herb Dean stopped it with 50 seconds left in the round.
Dillashaw and Garbrandt trained together in Sacramento until 2014, when Dillashaw left in a messy breakup with the Team Alpha Male gym. The fighters met for the first time last November, and Dillashaw stopped Garbrandt in the second round to take the bantamweight belt.
The rematch was just as violent, but even more decisive.
"This cements my legacy as the greatest bantamweight of all time," Dillashaw said. "I could tell that Cody was already hurt when we started that exchange, and then I lined up the shot. I got a little excited when I should have slowed down and finished him, but I got the job done."
Dillashaw held the 135-pound title belt for nearly two years before losing it to Dominick Cruz on a debatable split decision in early 2016. Garbrandt then took the belt from Cruz in December 2016, less than two years after he entered the UFC.
After Cejudo's victory, the new 125-pound champ called for a superfight with the winner of the 135-pound main event. When Dillashaw was told of Cejudo's challenge, he replied: "Henry Cejudo! Let's go, baby!"
Right before the title bouts on the top-heavy show, Brazilian featherweight Renato Moicano (13-1-1) finished Palm Springs veteran Cub Swanson (25-9) in the first round with a rear naked choke.
The show was the UFC's first in three years in downtown Los Angeles, and the first since local entertainment conglomerate Endeavor bought the promotion for $4 billion in 2016. The luminaries at cageside included Matt Damon, Chris Pratt, Miles Teller, Mickey Rourke and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.