UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao looks to continue his dominant Octagon ways this weekend when he defends his title against T.J. Dillashaw in Las Vegas. Barao stepped up to the plate in the main event role at UFC 173 after the previous headliner involving Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida was pushed back to July because of a knee injury suffered by the middleweight champion.
The Brazilian has emerged as one of the most destructive pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and has reeled off three consecutive stoppages. He’s coming off a first-round finish of Urijah Faber at UFC 169 and has also produced impressive finishes in title efforts against Eddie Wineland and Michael McDonald. UFC President Dana White is clearly a fan of Barao’s explosive style, recently stating he thought the Brazilian was the promotion’s No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter behind only light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Barao is 7-0 inside the Octagon and is a dangerous proposition for any challenger because of his explosiveness and strong technical skills. He has 22 of his 32 career victories by knockout or submission. Barao hasn’t lost in 33 fights and enters the contest against Dillashaw as a prohibitive favorite.
“The Viper” is confident that he possesses the skills to end Barao’s remarkable win streak and has embraced his underdog role. Dillashaw has gotten better with each passing fight and is coming off an impressive unanimous decision victory over Mike Easton at Fight Night 35. Dillashaw dominated the tough, seasoned veteran showcasing his solid striking and superior grappling skills. He’s been victorious in five of his last six fights with that lone defeat coming via split decision against Raphael Assuncao in Brazil.
There’s a revenge angle in play for this matchup with Dillashaw being a prominent member of Team Alpha Male. He will be looking to even the score against Barao for his fellow teammate Faber. However, the task of pulling off a huge upset will require the best performance of Dillashaw’s career.
This has the makings of being an entertaining title clash. Dillashaw has an aggressive style that is a solid complement to the impending sense of danger that Barao brings to the table. Barao, despite his remarkable success, hasn’t emerged as a major PPV draw. That’s unfortunate because the Brazilian champion usually delivers excitement and looks to end his contests in a violent manner.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports