Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight titleholder TJ Dillashaw put forth a strikingly one-sided whooping on former pound-for-pound star Renan Barao at UFC 173, which left many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans and pundits in awe.
The 29-year-old was in the midst of a complete sweep on all the judges' scorecards inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena on the evening of May 24, 2014, before sending the Brazilian packing with a head kick and follow-up punches in the final frame.
Dillashaw was pegged to rematch Barao twice, once at UFC 177 and another time at UFC 186, but the latter suffered a disastrous weight cut, while the former bowed out of their rescheduled April bout with an injured rib. With the inevitable title rematch taking place tomorrow night (Sat., July 25, 2015) at UFC on FOX 16 (more on the fight card here) inside of the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, Dillashaw is not concerned with upstaging himself.
"That's way too much pressure to go out there and try to top a perfect performance," Dillashaw told FOX Sports. "I'm just going out there to win, however I do it. Whether I flash knock him out this time, catch him in a submission, whatever it is. I know I'm going to win, it's just a matter of how I do it."
The Team Alpha Male stud is one of the most dominant fighters in the aforementioned stable. With a Division-I wrestling background, and the striking to put fear in the former owner of a 30-fight unbeaten streak, the California-based Dillashaw is poised to remain champion for some time.
Much has changed since the strap changed hands. Dillashaw completed a successful title defense over late replacement Joe Soto at UFC 177, knocking out the former Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight champion with a head kick and punches.
Due to the massive weight cut by Barao, he was unable to compete at the show and Dillashaw believes the sting of the loss, as well as his dieting, may be enough to send him up a division to featherweight, following what he expects to be a "W" in Chicago.
"I wasn't very impressed with his performance against (Mitch) Gagnon and I think he actually looked worse," said Dillashaw. "I don't know if it's the mental stuff getting to him or cutting too much weight, but I'm going to show that I'm a little too fast for him and he's a little too slow and he'll move up another weight class."
After the weight-cutting debacle, Barao made his return to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 58 against Canadian grappler Mitch Gagnon. The Brazilian found a finish in the third round, securing an arm-triangle choke, but it was his gameplan prior to his dismissal of Gagnon that has Dillashaw questioning whether he actually improved.
By no means was Barao's finish of Gagnon spotless. He was tagged with hooks numerous times throughout the first two frames and was not quick on the trigger.
A second victory over Barao would do wonders for Dillashaw's place in the UFC pantheon. After all, Dillashaw was not originally tapped to face "The Baron." Their title fight only came to be after UFC 173 lost its main event.
With the current climate in which titles are changing hands like clockwork, Dillashaw could return stability to UFC and center himself as a dominant champion for years to come. He undoubtedly has the mindset to accomplish that.
"It's time for me to look at that pound-for-pound list and be the best fighter in the world," Dillashaw said. "Not only my weight class, but in the world. I set goals as high as possible and there's no reason I couldn't achieve it. The goal is to be champion until I retire."
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