Not surprisingly the Renan Barao camp has been quick to make their case for an immediate rematch in the wake of his stunning bantamweight title loss at UFC 173 against T.J. Dillashaw. “The Viper” had the greatest night of his career in pulling off a mammoth upset in Las Vegas in what was Barao’s first loss since 2005.
Dillashaw’s win has opened up a 135-pound division that had been previously dominated by the Brazilian and has also opened up plenty of options. Barao’s head coach Andre Pederneiras says the former champ wants another shot at Dillashaw at UFC 179 in Brazil.
The UFC has unfortunately painted itself into a corner with the number of immediate rematches that it has opted for in recent years. While it’s understandable if a title fight was exciting and tightly contested or contained a controversial decision, but that’s simply not the case with Dillashaw-Barao.
It was entertaining and produced the Fight of the Night, but it was rather one-sided. The Team Alpha Male member dominated from the opening round and put a major exclamation point on the performance by finishing Barao in the fifth round. While UFC President Dana White was open to immediately seeing them do it again, it’s a rematch that I believe should have to wait.
The problem with going to immediate rematches is that it holds up the entire division for several months. There are other attractive options to explore for Dillashaw. No. 2 ranked contender Raphael Assuncao may not be a high-profile name, but he’s won six fights in a row and holds a victory over the new champion.
Assuncao would’ve gotten the shot at Barao at UFC 173 if not for a rib injury and is deserving of getting his opportunity. There would be a revenge angle to a Dillashaw-Assuncao rematch, and it would likely be another excellent fight. Their first clash, which Assuncao took by a disputed split decision in his native Brazil, produced a Fight of the Night bonus for both competitors.
We also can’t forget about former champion Dominick Cruz. He hasn’t fought since 2011 due to a terrible stretch of injury issues but is looking to return by the end of the year. “The Dominator” was forced to surrender his title after being forced out of a unification clash at UFC 169 against Barao because of his latest injury setback. Cruz vs. Dillashaw would be another strong option to consider.
There’s no denying that Barao is a terrific talent, but his title run in the division isn’t on the same level of dominance that we’ve seen from superstars Jon Jones, Anderson Silva or Georges St.Pierre. Most fans understand rematch clauses for fighters with that type of remarkable pedigree. It’s why the Silva-Chris Weidman rematch at UFC 168 did such lucrative PPV business after he was knocked out by Weidman at UFC 162.
Barao won an interim title at UFC 149 against Urijah Faber and made three successful title defenses before the lopsided loss to Dillashaw. In fairness, he should be forced to win at least one fight against another legitimate contender before getting the chance to go for gold again.
Dillashaw became an overnight sensation with his star-making effort at UFC 173. He proved he was ready for the biggest moment of his life by knocking off the division’s previous top gun in emphatic style. Now let Dillashaw make at least one title defense before revisiting another fight against Barao.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports