TJ Dillashaw wanted to prove that he was the baddest motherfucker at 135 pounds and not some kid with good cardio who caught the champ on a bad night. And so, in an effort to follow-up his bookie-busting upset over Renan Barao at UFC 173, "The Viper" went toe-to-toe with the Brazilian for a second time in the span of 14 months.
In the process, he made Nostradumbass look like plain ol' Dumbass.
Dillashaw completely destroyed Barao in the UFC on FOX 16 main event, which took place last Saturday night (July 25, 2015) inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois, beating him pillar to post for the four rounds the Brazilian was able to stay upright.
The win sets up what could be a very interesting scenario as we creep into the second half of 2015. The last fighter to defeat Dillashaw is Raphael Assuncao, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the 135-pound division. In addition, the wily Brazilian has now won seven straight fights.
I know it's hard to think of him as "the guy," simply because he's been out of action for nearly a year, thanks to an unfortunate ankle injury that spoiled plans for a Urijah Faber fight at UFC Fight Night 62. By the time Assuncao gets cleared to return, Dillashaw should once again be ready to put his bantamweight strap up for grabs.
I'm coming ..... All do respect to the champ, I know this "game" he brings! #UFCChicago @ufc— Raphael Assuncao (@RaphaAssuncao) July 26, 2015
A lot has changed since the last time they fought.
I don't think it's outrageous to suggest that Dillashaw will be a sizable favorite and rightly so, as he looks like a completely different fighter than the one who threw hands at UFC Fight Night 29. In addition, Assuncao will have to overcome an extended layoff, which can mess with an athlete's timing, as well as his/her conditioning.
Too soon to predict a win for the reigning champ?
But that would be the best-case scenario for the division. Not only does it settle an old score, it keeps the assembly line moving while the No. 2-ranked bantamweight, Dominick Cruz, recovers from his latest ACL surgery. "The Dominator," as we know, has a little beef with Team Alpha Male.
Or as he refers to them, Team Alpha Fail.
If Cruz comes back sooner and UFC wants him to take a tune-up fight while Assuncao gets his shot, no problem. If, however, the part-time FOX analyst argues for an immediate crack at the crown, that works too. As we saw in the Takeya Mizugaki fight, layoffs don't mean shit for the former king of the bantamweights.
@Crazy_MMA_Fan @samsanchezjr88 @AdrianPinkerton @Alex_Sloan iv been out 3 years, n still the belt is going to be mine no matter what 1st up— Dominick Cruz (@TheDomin8r) July 25, 2015
That doesn't even account for the epic clash of styles, as Dillashaw has reached the 135-pound summit with an offense not unlike that of his predecessor: sharp angles, confusing footwork, fast hands, and powerful wrestling. Outside of Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor, I'm not sure there's a more exciting fight in the lighter weight classes.
Now, if we can just get to 2016 without any injuries or failed drug tests...
Too much to ask?
For complete results from UFC on FOX 16 including live play-by-play for the entire "Dillashaw vs. Barao 2" mixed martial arts (MMA) event click here.