T.J. Dillashaw opened a lot of eyes with impressive knockout victory over Issei Tamura at UFC 158.
The dynamic bantamweight, who fights out of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Ca., has now finished his last two opponents in less than eight combined minutes and has clearly shown he is ready for a step up in competition.
Dillashaw came into the UFC by way of “The Ultimate Fighter Season 14″ when he fought his way into the finals against John Dodson. Dillashaw, however, impressed few MMA fans with his performances on the reality show. He relied primarily on his wrestling base, which created boring fights for his first several appearances.
After losing in the show’s finale to Dodson, Dillashaw returned to Sacramento and worked on his overall MMA skills. His hard work showed at UFC on Fuel TV: Munoz vs. Weidman, when he quickly dispatched Vaughan Lee by submission in under three minutes. Saturday, against Tamura, Dillashaw displayed an upgraded striking arsenal by putting his opponent to sleep with both knees and punches.
Dillashaw feels he is ready to fight a big-named bantamweight contender.
In an interview with Arial Helwani of MMA Fighting, Dillashaw discussed his standing in the bantamweight division. “I think I am already there,” Dillashaw said, referring to his proximity to a title shot. “I feel like I’m there and tightening up [my skills] even more.”
The UFC rankings, on the other hand, have Dillashaw nowhere near top-contender status. In fact, Dillashaw is not even listed in the top 10.
Despite the rankings, Dillashaw has proven he deserves a shot at a contender. Few fighters at 135 pounds exhibit his dynamic finishing skills. UFC matchmakers have certainly noticed. As a result, Dillashaw will likely face a top bantamweight the next time he steps into the Octagon.