The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight championship was on the line last night (Sat., May 24, 2014) when Renan Barao faced T.J. Dillashaw in the main event of UFC 173 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After finishing Urijah Faber in the main event of UFC 169, the dominant Barao brought an insane 33-fight unbeaten streak into ‘Sin City.' With the interim tag dropped from his title, Barao assumed the lofty position as the world's No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound fighter.
Dillashaw got the opportunity of a lifetime when Chris Weidman was forced out of the UFC 173 headliner with knee surgery. The No. 4-ranked "Viper" won five out of six heading into last night, but with his best win was a UFC Fight Night 35 decision over Mike Easton, the odds were stacked against Dillashaw
When the dust settled on UFC 173's main event, we had a massive upset that will certainly go down as one of the greatest in mixed martial (MMA) history.
The opening round saw Dillashaw utilizing a lot of movement, snapping a decent high kick and a good overhand right followed by a low kick. Dillashaw landed a sharp uppercut that surprised Barao. "Viper" rushed with a straight left and an uppercut, but Barao snapped a straight right. Dillashaw's mixture of movement and aggression was impressive as he repeatedly changed stances. The fighters traded shots and Dillashaw landed another high kick.
Dillashaw then landed a massive shot that had Barao in big trouble. "Viper" swarmed for the finish on the ground, but Barao went for a leglock. Dillashaw got out and continued to land big shots and went for a rear naked choke. Barao was dazed and hurt in a neck crank. Barao got out and ate an uppercut, only to fight back as the crazy first round came to a close.
The second round began with Barao landing a good flurry, but Dillashaw countered with a combo. "Viper" went in and out of the pocket and Barao responded with a solid shot. An exciting exchange ensued with both landing their punches. Dillashaw landed a couple glancing head kicks and avoiding a spinning kick attempt by Barao. Dillashaw went for a single leg, and then a guillotine that didn't materialize. "Baron" nailed Dillashaw with a low blow to a short break.
The challenger stayed aggressive, snapping a good right hook and a straight right. Dillashaw snapped kick to the body, but Barao landed a solid combo towards the end of the round, which closed with Dillashaw mixing it up with more shots.
Dillashaw danced to evade a kick, nailing Barao with a counter shot in the opening seconds of the third. His pace remained high, but he absorbed a big leg kick from Barao. Dillashaw landed another big shot and a head kick, tagging Barao repeatedly with a flurry. Barao was favoring his eye as Dillashaw pushed forward with shots over the top. A huge head kick landed from Dillashaw as Barao was bloodied and clearly hurting. Barao said he was poked in his eye, but the referee didn't stop the action. Dillashaw finished the round outworking Barao in the clinch.
Dillashaw shot for a takedown to start the fourth. He went for another head kick and his right hand, landing a kick to the body. He continued kicking the body and landing big punches on an exhausted Barao. A war broke out and Barao was in trouble, backing up to get dominated against the fence. Barao missed with a spinning back kick and Dillashaw rained down sharp elbows from the top.
The fifth and final round saw Dillashaw still fresh and bouncing around the cage to land a leg kick. Barao landed a body kick and needed to get the action moving. Dillashaw scored a knee and a great lunging combo ended with a kick. "Viper" snapped a left and a few jabs, continuing to confuse Barao.
Dillashaw scored with a huge combo beginning with a head kick, a jab, and a huge left hook that felled Barao. Dillashaw swarmed for the finish and ended Barao's insane unbeaten streak with a vengeance.
Dillashaw looked nothing other than spectacular, taking home the title for his beloved Coach Ludwig in his last fight with Team Alpha Male. He pursued the finish in a fifth round where he could have easily coasted and still walked out of Las Vegas with the belt. He's a surprise champion that should be headed for amazing things after only 12 professional bouts.
The next thing may be a rematch with Barao, but the former champion didn't really put forth much resistance. If Dominick Cruz can return anytime soon, he may earn a match with Dillashaw. And of course Raphael Assuncao, who beat Dillashaw last year, waits below the surface.
Suddenly the UFC bantamweight division is wide open and exciting just hours after it was widely believed Barao had a stranglehold on it.
Barao may get a rematch with Dillashaw, or he could fight either Cruz or Assuncao to figure out a future title contender as well. His loss was a thoroughly one-sided one, and he had no answer for Dillashaw's perfectly executed gameplan. With his aura of invincibility violently ripped away last night, Barao will have a lot of ground to make up in his next fight.
One of UFC's mightiest kings has fallen. What's next for stunning new champion T.J. Dillashaw?