UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw defended his title for the first time against at UFC 177 last night (August 30, 2014), defeating very late replacement Joe Soto with a fifth round head kick (watch highlights here).
The champ was prepared for a rematch against former bantamweight king Renan Barao, but when Barao became ill cutting weight Soto stepped in on just 24 hours notice. This put a lot more pressure on Dillashaw as he had to prepare very quickly for a new opponent. However, he got the job done despite Soto’s toughness under fire.
Following the win, “The Viper” sat down with the FOX Sports broadcast booth to discuss the fight with analysts Karen Bryant, Kenny Florian, and ironically enough, former champion and returning bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz: When asked about the difficult situation and if he was surprised about how his opponent performed here’s what the champ had to say:
“Yeah he’s a tough kid, I landed some good shots on him. I have some things I need to work on. I came in there a little nervous, it was a crazy situation the last 24 hours and yeah, I got a little more comfortable in their the fourth and fifth round you know? I knew his takedowns weren’t going to be there, I defended a couple of them, I took him down so I knew my grappling was a little bit more on point.”
The champ also said he got more lose as the fight went on and was able to use more of his footwork. He said he should’ve stayed tighter, and that he “shouldn’t have this black eye right now”
Dillashaw was then asked how he felt when he found out the unfortunate news regarding Barao:
“I was really angry last night, you know it took a lot for me to stay cool, a lot of my interviews I was pissed off; during weigh-ins I was saying he was scared. Who knows what really happened, but you know, I was just a little angry about the whole situation. Ultimately I was giving him a favor and giving him a rematch anyways and for him to bail out on me in a hour’s notice to weigh-ins, I was just angry about it. It was a lot of emotions to deal with.”
Despite the crazy and unfortunate series of events that took place Dillashaw proved he is a true champion. A champion is someone who believes he is the best in the world and will take on anyone at anytime, and that’s exactly what “The Viper” did last night.
Photo: Kyle Terada for USA TODAY Sports