While there weren’t many giving T.J. Dillashaw much of a chance in his UFC 173 bantamweight title clash against Renan Barao, the Team Alpha Male member delivered a star-making performance by ending the Brazilian’s remarkable 33-fight undefeated streak. Dillashaw emerged as the new 135-pound titleholder after a sizzling performance in Las Vegas that culminated with a fifth-round TKO.
It was a truly remarkable effort from “The Viper” as he derailed the previously unbeatable champion with a clinical and stunning effort. Dillashaw showed from the opening round, when he stunned the champion with a crisp right hand, that he meant business. He grew with confidence as the fight progressed and laid a beating on Barao during the bulk of the contest.
The end came in the final round after a left leg kick to the head and a follow-up right hand that badly rocked the champion. Dillashaw pounded on Barao until the fight was finally halted at the 2:26 mark. It was Barao’s first setback in eight Octagon appearances. The decided underdog showed a terrific killer instinct in cementing the finish in a fight that he had in the bag if the bout were to go to the judges’ scorecards. Dillashaw now has seven finishes to his credit in 10 career victories and earned Fight and Performance of the Night bonuses.
Dillashaw maintained that he was going to shock the MMA world and made the most of his opportunity against Barao in registering a signature career victory. He’s now won six of his last seven fights with that lone loss having been a debatable split-decision setback against Raphael Assuncao in Brazil. Ironically, it was Dillashaw who got the call against Barao on this card because Assuncao was forced to turn down the title opportunity because of a rib injury.
This was truly one of the biggest UFC upsets in recent memory. Dillashaw became a household name with a flawless performance against the talented Brazilian. Barao saw his reputation as one of the promotion’s pound-for-pound kings go up in smoke with the decisive drubbing at the hands of the hungry Dillashaw.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports.