There is a new bantamweight champion inside the Octagon, as T.J. Dillashaw finally ended the Team Alpha Male drought by finishing Renan Barao in the main event of UFC 173.
Despite being a heavy underdog, Dillashaw gave his teammates in attendance a reason to celebrate, dominating Barao for the better part of four-plus rounds before landing a head-kick that led to the finish in the fifth.
“I have dreamed about this for so long,” Dillashaw said. “It’s unbelievable. The greatest feeling in the world.
“All you have to do is believe and you’ll get here.”
Dillashaw (10-2) was given the title fight with Barao after Raphael Assuncao declined due to injury. That didn’t stop the alum of The Ultimate Fighter from preparing with departing head coach Duane Ludwig and believing he could win.
“My Bang Muay Thai is tight,” said Dillashaw, of the finishing strikes. “I owe (this win) to my team and my coaches.”
Dillashaw ended the fight having landed 58-percent of his strikes. He held a 209-97 advantage over the former champion in terms of total strikes, including 193 significant ones.
“That’s who I am. I’m aggressive,” he said. “I’ve done it in the gym every day. I wanna finish every fight and never want it to go to the judges again.”
Dillashaw’s last loss, which came to Assuncao in 2013, was a split decision defeat. He rebounded to top Mike Easton this past January and is now 7-2 in his UFC career after falling to John Dodson in the finals of TUF 14.
Joe Rogan, who has trained with Dillashaw, called the bout the “greatest performance I’ve ever seen in my life. It was the most spectacular performance I’ve ever seen.”
Front-Page Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie