UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw has reason to doubt Renan Barao‘s claim that he wasn’t fully present for most of the UFC 173 headliner that forced him to hand over the belt.
“He had to come up with some sort of a reason why he got beat up so bad,” Dillashaw said backstage at this past Saturday’s UFC on FOX 12.
Barao (32-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) said he “woke up” in the locker room after the fight, which ended in the fifth and final round with a flurry of punches and kicks from Dillashaw (10-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who pulled off one of the upsets of the year at the pay-per-view event in May.
The title fight shifted violently in the first round when the Team Alpha Male fighter landed a right hand put Barao on the canvas. After that, now-ex champ Barao said, he wasn’t the same person.
“I feel like that’s not accurate (that he woke up in the locker room), because he came out and the second round was his best round,” Dillashaw, 28, countered. “I feel like after the second round is when I actually broke him, because his best round was actually the round after he got knocked down.
“I’m not saying he didn’t go on autopilot, but for not losing that long, you’ve got to have some kind of excuse.”
Prior to meeting Dillashaw, Barao, 27, hadn’t met defeat in nine years and 32 fights in his native Brazil, the now-defunct WEC and the UFC, where he first won the interim bantamweight title in 2012 before being promoted to undisputed champ in the wake of ex-titleholder Dominick Cruz’s extended injury layoff.
In his previous performance, Barao easily dispatched Dillashaw’s longtime training partner, Urijah Faber, to notch his third title defense as a UFC champion.
After accepting the title shot in lieu of an injury to bantamweight Raphael Assuncao, Dillashaw was as high as a 7-to-1 underdog heading into UFC 173. In his previous fight, he had beaten the tough, but relatively unheralded Mike Easton.
An immediate rematch is an option not often utilized by the UFC, but in this case, the promotion elected to put the pair together to headline next month’s UFC 177, which puts Dillashaw on home turf in Sacramento, Calif., where Team Alpha Male is based.
Dillashaw brushed aside the question of whether Barao was getting a rematch too soon, though initially, he said the promotion would be rushing the matter to immediately rebook the fight, which headlines the pay-per-view event on Aug. 30 at Sleep Train Arena.
“I’m pumped,” he said. “I get to fight in front of my hometown. The UFC was scheduled to come to Sacramento that day, and they’re going to put the champ in (Sacramento) on the card. I’m excited about it.
“I don’t want to be the guy that’s going to call (out) when I fight. I just want to be the company man and fight who they put in front of me and keep winning.”
Barao has said his loss to Dillashaw was the result of a shortened training champ and has vowed to avenge his loss. Although Dillashaw already has a win over the Brazilian, he said he isn’t walking into the rematch with any added confidence.
The first fight was a major upset on paper, but to Dillashaw, it wasn’t something unexpected.
“Just as much (confidence) as before,” he said. “I can’t get overly confident. I’ve got to respect him just like I did in the first fight. He is very dangerous, and I just want to make sure I go in there with the same respect for him and belief in myself.”
For more on UFC 177, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.