UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw put in the performance of a lifetime at UFC 173, scoring a dramatic finish over Renan Barao and snapping the 33-fight unbeaten streak of the former champ in the process. With the rematch set for UFC for UFC 177 in Sacramento, California, talk has turned to whether ‘The Viper’ can repeat his dominant performance over ‘Baron’.
The Brazilian Nova Uniao product spoke in the time since losing to Dillashaw, saying he was out on his feet after being hit with a big right hand from the new champ early in the fight, and claims to have been on autopilot for the rest of the bout. ‘The Viper’ dropped Barao in round one, and went on to finish him in round five. Speaking with MMAJunkie.com, ‘The Viper’ says he is sceptical of how hurt Barao really was:
“He had to come up with some sort of a reason why he got beat up so bad, I feel like that’s not accurate (that he woke up in the locker room), because he came out and the second round was his best round, I feel like after the second round is when I actually broke him, because his best round was actually the round after he got knocked down.”
The new champion at 135 pounds makes a valid point, but Barao could easily prove him wrong in the rematch. It’s hard to imagine the ex-champion coming in with exactly the same gameplan after being beaten in such a fashion against Dillashaw, but stranger things have happened. TJ continues:
“I get to fight in front of my hometown. The UFC was scheduled to come to Sacramento that day, and they’re going to put the champ in (Sacramento) on the card. I’m excited about it. I don’t want to be the guy that’s going to call (out) when I fight. I just want to be the company man and fight who they put in front of me and keep winning. “
The bantamweight division had gotten a little stale before Dillashaw and Barao fought at UFC 173, and the shocking result certainly shook things up a bit. Dillashaw then comments on his confidence levels for the rematch:
“I can’t get overly confident. I’ve got to respect him just like I did in the first fight. He is very dangerous, and I just want to make sure I go in there with the same respect for him and belief in myself.”
So will it be 2-0 for Dillashaw against the Brazilian ex-champion, or will Barao claw one back in the war between Nova Uniao and Team Alpha Male?
All images courtesy of USA Today Sports