Welcome to the big leagues, buddy.
One of Team Alpha Male's brightest prospects and most promising stars in the sport, T.J. Dillashaw, will step in for Raphael Assuncao (and Chris Weidman, too) when he faces Renan Barao for the bantamweight championship at UFC 173.
"The Viper" gets the title shot directly after his team's captain Urijah Faber came up short, on the receiving end of a first-round technical knockout loss against Barao -- which was met with controversy after the fact at UFC 169.
The young prospect was in good spirits on The MMA Hour, more than happy about receiving the main event call up.
"I've never been the underdog in any of my fights, so it takes all the pressure off. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain ... It's going to be a barnburner and I'm going to upset Barao and shock the world. Everything's going to change from there."
The challenger knows he has a difficult task ahead of him, as the Nova Uniao standout is currently on a three-fight stoppage streak, apart from being undefeated in 32 straight bouts. To say Dillashaw is impressed with the Brazilian would be an understatement.
"Absolutely, I mean I've always been impressed with him before he was even the champ. He's very well rounded, he's explosive, he's huge. He's big for the weight class, you know, but I also think that's his downfall. I don't think he's going to have the cardio."
After UFC 169, "The California Kid" remained in good spirits despite his frustrating loss to the champion, throwing out his teammate's name into the mix as to who should be Barao's next challenger. Instead of unloading on Herb Dean's questionable stoppage and demanding an immediate rematch, Faber shifted the focus to a fighter in his stable -- something Dillashaw had mixed feeling about.
"It was mixed emotions. I was very disappointed the way the fight went down, but then, for him to throw my name out like that was just kind of really exciting for myself, but I was also disappointed in the way the fight turned out. He's such a great guy. He's always thinking about everyone else, and doesn't have a chip on his shoulder. Me and him are in the same weight class, and he's trying to promote me to get this belt."
The Alpha Male camp is truly united; however, it will be a tough couple of months for the squad, as they will be losing former UFC notable and head coach Duane Ludwig. The former K-1 World MAX champion will embark on another project, opening up his own gym in Colorado.
"Bang" is set for an exit effective May 24, 2014 -- the exact same date when Dillashaw takes on Barao.
"We're trying not to think about it. Actually, I think we're going to benefit from this. I'm going to continue to have Duane as my coach, past May 24th, and we're going to have someone else picking me apart as well. I'm going to have two eyes helping me out, two great coaches hopefully, and I feel like it's going to be nothing but beneficial for us."
The exit marks Ludwig's last event with Team Alpha Male, and although he's been unsuccessful with Faber and also Joseph Benavidez in capturing a title, it would a marvelous way to go out in his last night of work for the upstart camp.
With everything falling into place so far for "The Viper," he's hoping he can put an end to the Brazilian's post-fight dance moves, with some slick shakes of his own.
"It's pretty disgusting dancing. Maybe if he had some good dance moves, it wouldn't be so bad, but it's just horrible dancing. His celebrations are just really bad. I might have to give him a dance back once I win."
We shall see who busts a move when the time comes.