T.J. Dillashaw did the impossible last night (Sat., May 24, 2014) at UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw" inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, stopping Renan Barao in the fifth round of their bantamweight championship main event and became Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) third bantamweight champion.
Not only did "The Viper" beat Barao, he outclassed him on the feet and on the mat, shocking every observer on the face of the planet (watch full fight video highlights here). Dillashaw's historical win also means Team Alpha Male finally acquires gold, after Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, and Joseph Benavidez all came up short in the past.
In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier choked out Dan Henderson, establishing himself as a serious threat in the light heavyweight division.
"DC" manhandled "Hendo" in the grappling exchanges, tossing him from pillar to post during their contest. It was sad to see Henderson succumb to such a lopsided loss, since the aging fighter may not have any gas left in the tank.
There were several fascinating performances on the main card, and there's no way you're going to see Jamie Varner's name under the losing section. "C-4" tore apart his ankle against James Krause, but the veteran finished the round as best as he could and even scored a takedown.
The dude showed more heart than Rudy Ruettiger and Ellen Ripley combined.
Robbie Lawler was victorious against Jake Ellenberger, stopping the Nebraskan with punches in the third round. Not only can "Ruthless" still compete at a high level after all these years, but he's not far away from a second welterweight title shot.
With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser (and their runner ups) from the event in Las Vegas.
Biggest Winner -- T.J. Dillashaw
The only person who believed in Dillashaw was Dillashaw himself ... and perhaps his Team Alpha Male compatriots.
Not only did "The Viper" shock the world by finishing a bantamweight regarded as one of the top three fighters in the world, he completely broke him down during the course of five rounds. He positioned himself in front of Barao in a fearless manner, throwing caution to the wind and using astonishing footwork to throw the former champion off his game.
It was mesmerizing.
There isn't one mixed martial arts (MMA) website out there who picked Dillashaw to win the fight -- he was expected to be another victim of the Brazilian's wrath by decimation. There was a lot of talk about the 28-year-old fighter being a worthy opponent, since he was technically a replacement for Raphael Assuncao.
This ranks pretty high on the list of championship upsets. And the new champion just shifted the whole landscape at bantamweight.
Also, who would have thought Dillashaw would have been the first fighter to win a title at Team Alpha Male?
Enjoy, Duane Ludwig.
Runner Up -- Daniel Cormier
What a performance.
Nobody has ever rag dolled Henderson the way Cormier did, proving his wrestling was light years ahead of his foe's.
Keeping his undefeated streak intact, "DC" becomes only the fifth combatant to stop "Hendo" out of his 12 losses, and he didn't look like he was in trouble for a split second. He even absorbed a relatively weak "H-Bomb" with composure.
The win should grant him a light heavyweight title shot, as he will presumably wait patiently on the sidelines for the winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, which hasn't been announced just yet.
Judging from his post-fight interview, it's fairly obvious the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) phenomenon wants to fight his nemesis, calling out "Bones" as soon as the mic was put in his face.
If "Gusty" was able to take down Jones, you better believe Cormier could do the same. It's wrong to assume "DC" will be facing Jones, but if they are set to tangle, get your supply of Orville Redenbacher's at your local Costco because the lead up to the fight will be as interesting as the tussle inside the cage.
Biggest Loser -- Renan Barao
It's safe to say there won't be any post-fight dancing for quite some time.
Arguably the best fighter in the world on several lists, Barao was supposed to win handily in brutal fashion. Not only was he expected to win, a victory over "The Viper" would have made it incredibly difficult for UFC matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby to set him up against the next contender.
After Dillashaw's bomb in the first round dropped Barao, it was apparent there was just no coming back from that.
The Brazilian not only lost his title last night, but he also lost for the first time since 2005, which means his win streak of 32 fights is now kaput. It was a massive upset, yet it shouldn't hurt Barao's chances in acquiring a rematch or another title fight down the road. He's a tremendously gifted talent who needs to recover from a monumental loss, and it's going to be interesting to see how he does that.
It simply wasn't his night.
Runner Up -- Dan Henderson
It may be time to put the horse down.
Obviously, nobody's calling for Henderson's death. The main focal point here is Henderson might not be able to compete against elite competition, and he shouldn't feel shameful at all. He was mostly a welterweight and a middleweight for the majority of his career, never backing down from a fight against anyone.
With that being said, watching him go out from Cormier's rear-naked choke was heartbreaking.
"Hendo" was slammed to the floor worse than a football after a touchdown, and he simply can't rely on his right hand as his only tool. His wrestling may be on par with other light heavyweights, even though he's not getting any younger.
For all we know, the Californian may be able to beat a bunch of 205 pounders any other day of the week, but it may be time for UFC president Dana White to give him the retirement talk.
You can't cut a legend of his stature, despite his run of 1-4 in his last five bouts. On the flip side, it's tragic when athletes simply don't have it anymore, like we've seen with Ricky Hatton in the boxing ring or Brett Favre when he inexplicably joined the Minnesota Vikings.
Thanks for all you've done, "Hendo." It's time to call it a day.
That's a wrap.
For extensive coverage of UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw," check out our story stream featuring highlights, video recaps, and in-depth results right here.