TJ Dillashaw has heard all the talk about UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao. In fact, he’s even seen what the Brazilian can do first-hand against his friend and training partner, Urijah Faber.
But Dillashaw doesn’t care. He plans on walking into UFC 173 to challenge Barao and leave the arena with the title around his waist.
“If I didn’t believe I could win, I wouldn’t be doing it,” said Dillashaw, in an interview on UFC Tonight. “Being an underdog is better for me because you don’t have expectations and you get to prove everyone wrong.
“I don’t feel the pressure at all.”
Dillashaw (9-2) is 5-1 in his last six, falling only via split decision to Raphael Assuncao in Brazil last October. He rebounded with a convincing decision vs. Mike Easton in January, and stepped into the role of title contender when Assuncao turned it down due to injury.
Despite being just 11 fights into his pro career, the last seven of which have come in the Octagon, the Team Alpha Male-trained fighter believes he is ready.
“I’m more prepared now than I’m ever going to be,” Dillashaw said. “It’s a perfect storybook ending for me. I feel like I’m the best fighter I could be right now.”
Dillashaw has worked with Faber, who has lost two fights to Barao for the belt, in his recent training sessions. “The California Kid” gave him some special insight into what he’ll need to do to succeed next week.
“Urijah prepared for some things that didn’t happen (in their fight),” Dillashaw said. “Barao is an offensive fighter. I have to get him going backwards. I have to be aggressive while being safe.”
Front-Page Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly