UFC bantamweight title challenger TJ Dillashaw picked up the opportunity of a lifetime when middleweight champion Chris Weidman was forced out of the UFC 173 main event against Lyoto Machida due to knee problems.
The bout got pushed back to July’s UFC 175, but UFC 173 still needed a main event for May 24.
In stepped dominant UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao, who was last seen defeating Urijah Faber at UFC 169. No. 3-ranked bantamweight Raphael Assuncao was originally eyed as the “Baron’s” opponent, but a rib injury left Dillashaw as the next logical choice.
With his Team Alpha Male head coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig Dillashaw appeared on today’s “The MMA Hour” to detail how he’s going to send him out on a high note:
“Me and Duane have been, kind of, picking my style apart for Barao. I’ve been training for the best fighter at my weight class, and that’s Barao right now. Even though I was fighting Takeya Mizugaki, I was still working on techniques that would make me the best fighter in the world. And so I’ve already been training for Barao; it just came a whole lot sooner than I thought it was going to.”
Dillashaw moved on to focus on Coach Ludwig, who is set to leave the team to start his own gym after UFC 173. A Bas Rutten-trained kickboxer himself, “Bang” has improved Dillashaw’s striking by leaps and bounds since taking over as Team Alpha Male’s head instructor. According to Dillashaw, that will continue in his upcoming title fight:
“Oh, absolutely. That was the reason why he wasn’t leaving until after the 24th anyways, was because he was going to finish out our fight camp. He was gonna stick around and finish off our training so he wouldn’t leave in the middle of a fight camp and we’d have to deal with a new coach. And so he was doing the right thing in leaving after that. He has his own career to think about and his family back home, and yeah, he’ll be my coach and in my corner for this fight.”
The rising contender seems to have a ton of respect for Coach Ludwig, and for good reason. Dillashaw has a chance to knock off the No. 3-ranked pound-for-pound fighter at UFC 173. Much of that probably owed to Ludwig’s system, for which Dillashaw considers himself a poster boy:
“It’s almost like a Cinderella story for him and me, I’m kind of like his little prodigy for his system, and we’re gonna get a belt before he leaves. I got nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s gonna be a barnburner, and I’m going to upset Barao and shock the world, and then everything’s going to change from there.”
That would be quite the story for “Bang’s” exit from the team, but the odds will be stacked against them. Dillashaw has to defeat one of the absolute best fighters in the world to accomplish that goal, one that hasn’t lost since 2005.
Are you giving him much of a shot to end the surging champion’s 33-fight unbeaten streak?
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