T.J. Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz put together an entertaining scrap for the former's Bantamweight title in the main event of the UFC Fight Night 81 mixed martial arts (MMA) event last night (Sun., Jan. 17, 2016) in Boston.
For the full main event recap click here.
"The Dominator" returned from over a year layoff to take on "The Viper" in a highly anticipated contest and a pivotal one for the champion.
Much was said between the pair of elite strikers in the lead-up to their tussle in "Beantown" and it came to a head on Sunday.
Right out of the gate, it was apparent that Cruz would be difficult to hit as he always is. Dillashaw had trouble and even slipped on a head kick attempt. He was taken down briefly later, but the Elevation Fight Team member was right back up to his feet.
The Alliance MMA star Cruz carried his momentum into the second round, where he landed two takedowns towards the end of the frame, but not before Dillashaw scored with several nice legs kicks. His movement was still there, but it was apparent towards the end of round two that Dillashaw was becoming more flatfooted.
Round three saw more of the same for Cruz as he registered another takedown and a hard punch at the bell.
Then, in the championship rounds, Dillashaw rallied with thumping leg kicks that visibly wobbled the challenger. He would connect on vicious knees to the leg in the clinch a few minutes into round four following a quick takedown.
Dillashaw fought valiantly in round five, landing nice head and leg kicks, but it was too little too late as two of three cageside judges scored the exchange for Cruz.
The 30-year-old reclaims the 135-pound strap he never lost to compete his Cinderella story, perhaps setting up a trilogy fight with rival Urijah Faber somewhere down the line. Dillashaw, meanwhile, suffers his third UFC loss and falls to 12-3.
For complete coverage of the UFC Fight Night 81 card, including post-fight recaps and analysis, click here.