UFC fight night makes its way to Chicago for the Bantamweight rematch between T.J Dillashaw and Renan Barao in a fight Fox Sports are calling this the most anticipated rematch of all-time.
The first battle between the two resulted in one of the most shocking upsets of all-time, with Dillashaw stepping in to the fight at the last minute to cause a boil-over and break a 32-fight win streak that Barao held for almost ten years.
The rematch promises to be just as compelling.
UFC Bantamweight Championship
T.J. Dillashaw (11-2, 7-2 UFC) vs. Renan Barao (33-2, 8-1 UFC)
Renan Barao – $2.55
T.J. Dillashaw – $1.50 @ WilliamHill.com.au
The road to Chicago:
Both men have had successful runs in the sport after the shock Dillashaw win at UFC 173.
Dillashaw has only defended his title once since winning it back in May, winning against Joe Soto in what was supposed to be the rematch of the UFC 173 bout.
A bad weight cut that saw the former champion sent to hospital meant Barao was unavailable for the fight, with Joe Soto stepping in with a little over a day’s notice so the show could go on.
A valiant effort saw Soto just succumb to Dillashaw in the fifth round to retain the title.
The 29-year-old American spoke of the difficulties in changing opponents at the 11th hour.
“To switch my opponent at the last minute like that, it was a real stressful situation that I just had to man up and do.” Dillashaw said.
UFC president Dana White said the situation was unprecedented in the sport.
“I don’t think that anybody had more pressure on us this weekend than Dillashaw did.” White said
Barao bounced back in style after his humiliating loss at UFC 173, with a win over 30-year-old Canadian Mitch Gagnon.
The former champion was able to make Gagnon tap with arm-triangle choke in the third round.
The fight has been a long time coming, with two cancellations in the past year, but the two will finally meet in Chicago on the 25th in what should be a match up that will be just as captivating as the last.
What they say
The UFC are hoping that it will be third time lucky for the two competitors, with a weight cut resulting in a hospitalisation to Barao ending the first attempt at a rematch, while a rib injury to Dillashaw in early March put a halt on the second effort to put the fight on.
Now the third iteration at the fight is scheduled to happen this weekend, but Dillashaw is not worried that the constant interruptions to the rematch will hurt his chances.
“I was supposed to fight him in August, he didn’t make weight and that was pretty crazy,” Dillashaw said.
“Then I was supposed to fight him in April but then I broke a rib, so it has just kind of been this rematch that has been waiting to happen. A little of build up to it and some hype I guess.”
Dillashaw has not fought for almost a year since his win over Joe Soto all the way back in August, but the American believes the extended break away from the octagon could help his chances.
“It makes training camp easier to prepare for the same guy, I don’t have to switch up really,”
In contrast to his opponent, Renan Barao made an unequivocal statement leading in to the bout in Chicago.
“I have one thing to say: I want my belt back,” Barao said.
“Dillashaw, I have two gifts for you: my left hand and my right hand. I’m going to shut up your mouth,”
“Everyone knows my style; I want to finish this fight as soon as possible,” Barao said. “I’m going to knock out or just submit him.”
Such is Barao’s confidence that he will defeat the man that stunned him at UFC 173, the Brazilian is already talking about the possibility of a third fight between the two men.
“I think it would be fair and that the UFC will decide to go for the third time with Dillashaw,” Barao said.
“T.J. beat me the first time; I’m going to beat T.J. this time, so I can’t think of anyone else besides him.”
Who will win and why
Method: T.J. Dillashaw by KO – $2.50
Finally, after two failed attempts the Bantamweight rematch that the world has been waiting for has arrived.
The odds were very different last time the two fights met, with Dillashaw snapping an almost ten year undefeated Barao streak to prise the title away from the Brazilian.
Barao is not the lightest fighter on his feet, but he still possesses a plethora of options in his arsenal that could trouble the champ.
The Brazilians striking is superb and he has excellent wrestling skills, with his main strength lying in his ability to maintain a distance between him and his opponent.
Last time the two fought we got to have a good look at his bottom game after Dillashaw kept him on his back, something he will no doubt have worked on since UFC 173.
29-year-old Dillashaw is a dangerous man and a worthy champion.
The Bantamweight title holder is a renowned striker – one of the best in the division – his wrestling skills are sublime, with the former collegiate wrestler never been taken down in his UFC career.
The American has won four of his last six bouts via knock out, and also has two submissions in his win tally via rear naked choke.
The fight promises to be a terrific contest, with both men laying claim to being the best in the division.
Will the scars of his humiliating defeat haunt the Brazilian, or will he turn the tables on his opponent?
Based on his striking game, as well as the UFC 173 victory he has over his opponent, Dillashaw has to get the nod in this fight, with a third round knockout the preferred bet.
Specific method of victory:T.J. Dillashaw to win in the round three – $11
Other fights on the card:
Odds provided by William Hill
Dominique Steele ($2.90) vs. Zac Cummings ($1.40)
Elizabeth Phillips ($1.60) vs. Jessamyn Duke ($2.30)
Andrew Holbrook ($2.30) vs. Ramsey Nijem ($1.70)
James Krause ($2.15) vs. Daron Cruickshank ($1.68)
Bryan Caraway ($2.05) vs. Eddie Wineland ($1.75)
Kenny Robertson ($1.88) vs. Ben Saunders ($1.88)
Danny Castillo ($1.93) vs. Jim Miller ($1.83)
Tom Lawlor ($2.60) vs. Gian Villante ($1.43)
Takanori Gomi ($3.15) vs. Joe Lauzon ($1.35)
Paul Felder ($2.00) vs. Edson Barboza ($1.77)
Jessica Eye ($2.50) vs. Miesha Tate ($1.52)