TJ Dillashaw was a 9-to-1 underdog heading into UFC 173. 9-to-1 odds means that he would be expected to win one fight in ten attempts against his opponent, Renan Barao. On paper, that made perfect sense. Barao was on an incredible 22-fight win streak and showed no signs of slowing. Dillashaw, a good young fighter out of the Team Alpha Male camp, just seemed like the next fighter in line from his team to lose to the champion Barao. On May 24, however, Dillashaw shocked the MMA world with an incredible performance and won the UFC’s bantamweight title.
Dillashaw dominated the fight from the outset, using outstanding footwork to set up well-timed strikes. He knocked Barao down and almost out in the first round, but Barao survived and fended off a rear naked choke attempt just long enough to hear the bell. However, the fight was all downhill from there.
Barao made it to the fifth round and final round, but Dillashaw was clearly dominating the fight. Dillashaw was so far ahead that he could have chosen to coast in that final round and hear his name called as the new champion by decision, but he decided to go after the finish instead. Dillashaw got the fight to the mat and poured on the offense until Herb Dean stepped in at 2:22 of the final round.
Dillashaw’s victory is clearly one of the biggest upsets in the history of the UFC. However, the dominating nature of his win left little doubt as to the quality of his victory. As happens after any title fight, talk immediately turned to who would be next for Dillashaw. It is a good question. Barao had been so dominant, yet was so thoroughly dominated, that one wonders who can give Dillashaw a good fight.