Dear initial title challenger who was a 10-to-1 underdog ... you can now brush the dirt off your shoulder.
T.J. Dillashaw's upset over Renan Barao at UFC 173 last night (Sat., May 24, 2014) was historical. It was one of the biggest championship upsets we've ever seen in Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) storied Octagon, with almost nobody giving "The Viper" a realistic shot at winning the contest (check out highlights here).
It may not have been as big as Matt Serra over Georges St-Pierre at UFC 69, although, it's pretty freaking huge if you think about it and try to find other championship upsets of the same grandeur.
Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez tried to win titles for Team Alpha Male in the past, but they all came up short in their respective battles. If you would have predicted the Californian to steamroll through Barao in their championship main event, you had better put money down on it, or else you should still be in tears right about now.
To make matters sweeter, the new champion sent coach Duane Ludwig packing to Colorado with a major championship in his trophy case, as "Bang" will now embark on a new journey with the opening of his personal training center.
When upsets of this nature come into effect, it changes the whole landscape of the division. The Brazilian was the king at 135 pounds, tearing through every obstacle that came in his way. He was undefeated since 2005, racking up 32 wins during his unbeaten streak. Dillashaw proved numbers don't mean a thing once you're in a warzone, and that a fighter who seems invincible isn't impossible to beat, no matter how dazzling his stats are.
We are all human, hence the expression, "any given Sunday" in football.
About the division being spread wide open, it's going to be a whole lot of fun to predict who the champion faces next. The 135-pound division isn't exactly shy of contenders now that Dillashaw is wearing the gold around his waist.
For starters, there's no way Dillashaw will fight his team leader Urijah Faber. It should go without saying, even though Faber is always going to be a solid bantamweight contender. It's going to be interesting to see what "The California Kid" does, since he's came up short twice at bantamweight and could be eyeing a move back to featherweight.
Also, let's not forget Dillashaw was defeated by Jon Dodson at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 Finale, so it's possible "The Magician" bulks up and shows up at Dillashaw's door again.
Still, that scenario could just be wishful thinking.
Takeya Mizugaki also got a victory on the main card last night, winning his fifth consecutive fight, but it's nearly unfeasible to pick him over the other options available.
Since Anderson Silva was awarded an immediate rematch against Chris Weidman at UFC 168 last year because of his solid run as an unstoppable middleweight champion, it's possible Barao gets an immediate rematch, and it wouldn't be the worst of ideas.
On the contrary, Dillashaw battered the Brazilian in such a way nobody expected, so don't be too stunned if that idea were scrapped altogether. The Brazilian can certainly get his rematch eventually if he gets another win or two under his belt.
Both Dillashaw and UFC head honcho Dana White spoke about Raphael Assuncao's chances at getting a title shot, since he had to bow out of the UFC 173 main event with an injury. Not only was Dillashaw a replacement opponent, he was beaten by the Ascension MMA product the last time he tasted defeat at UFC Fight Night 29. Their scrap was close, too, with Assuncao edging "The Viper" by split decision.
It makes a lot of sense since there's history there.
In spite of that, let us not forget about Dominick Cruz, either.
"The Dominator" was forced to relinquish his championship after another grueling injury forced him out of his UFC 169 bout against Renan Barao. He's remained tight-lipped about his return, and only he knows when he's ready to come back.
On the flipside, it's only a matter of time before he makes his Octagon return, and he deserves an immediate title shot once he's cleared for competition.
It may not have been the same story if Cruz had to duke it out against Barao, since pundits would have been reluctant to have the Alliance MMA standout return against someone of Barao's status. Nobody was entirely convinced the Arizona-born fighter would have been able to hang against the Brazilian after his injury problems, but it's a different story if he meets Dillashaw.
It's difficult to say Cruz would find himself in an easier fight after Dillashaw's performance last night, but it would be a far more interesting battle now that the champion needs a top-notch opponent to look forward to.
Plus, could you imagine the fancy footwork you'll be treated to?
Ultimately, it's the promotion's decision. With that being said, if the ball were in your court, what scenario would you prefer?
For extensive coverage of UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw," featuring video highlights, recaps and in-depth results, click here.