I genuinely feel bad for TJ Dillashaw. He utterly dismantled reigning Champion Renan Barao at UFC 173 back in May. Barao, the same fighter Dana White had been lauding as one of the best in the world prior to the fight, looked like a scared puppy in the cage as Dillashaw charged forward as a ravenous bulldog. Throwing this rematch together just three months after that fateful night is a monumental slap in the face to the new Champ.
Renan Barao held some form of the UFC Bantamweight belt from July 2012 to May 2014. In that time, did you ever learn a thing about him? He liked to awkwardly dance? He has a family that he loves in Brazil? Neither of those are anything that make him stand out from the crowd. Flat out, he was boring and couldn’t sell a fight if it was water in the desert.
Now when TJ defeated, ‘The Baron’, a marketable Champion had finally climbed atop the Bantamweight division. He was the first World Champion ever out of the famed Team Alpha Male and could sell out an arena in Sacramento if he was just clipping his toe nails. Yet, here we are, 3 months later and any opportunity for the UFC to turn Dillashaw into a bona fide star could be flushed down the toilet with one simple punch.
The UFC clearly wished and hope that Urijah Faber would become a Champion so they could push him to the moon, but the cards never fell that way. TJ Dillashaw is every bit the fighter Faber is, but seven years younger. Instead of propping him up on a pedestal for dethroning their sleepy Brazilian Champion, they are tossing him right back into the fire where his chances to retain are 50/50 at best.
I don’t get it. The lighter weight classes are proving to be an issue for the UFC marketing team and TJ Dillashaw could have dragged the sub 155ers out of the basement in regards to fan interest. Still, for some odd reason the UFC brass thought it would be best to tempt their fate again.
I get it, there may not be too many legitimate challengers to the belt right now, but that hasn’t stopped them from churning new challengers at 125 has it?
TJ implemented the perfect gameplan in his first fight against Barao. I just don’t see him being able to do it again in the rematch. He struck gold in the first match with that early knockdown that basically had Barao out on his feet for three rounds. We know how vengeful the MMA gods are, they won’t take kindly to the UFC tempting fate twice.
I believe that we will emerge Saturday night with a new UFC Champion. A Champion we have seen before, and didn’t really care to see again. Poor, poor TJ Dillashaw…