MONTREAL – After a disappointing loss to John Dodson in the tournament final of “The Ultimate FIghter 14,” Team Alpha Male product T.J. Dillashaw is now on a three-fight win streak.
Dillashaw outgrappled opponent Issei Tamura in the first round before flashing improved striking technique in a brutal second-round finish.
The bantamweight bout was part of the preliminary card of Saturday’s UFC 158 event at Bell Centre in Montreal. It streamed on Facebook ahead of additional prelims on FX and a main card on pay-per-view.
Dillashaw took the center of the cage to open the fight and briefly traded strikes with Tamura before ultimately pushing in for a takedown that would see him control the action for the remainder of the round. Tamura had trouble creating space and struggled to remain upright as Dillashaw repeatedly dragged him to the mat to strike in the clinch. After spending several minutes in the clinch, the pair separated in the final minute of the frame, and Dillashaw foreshadowed the fight’s ending as he snapped off low kicks and then just missed with a grazing strike to the head.
In the second, Dillashaw returned to striking and faked a low kick by keeping his gaze at the canvas as he fired a left high kick. His knee landed on a ducking Tamura’s temple, and the Japanese fighter crashed to the canvas. Dillashaw seized the opportunity and pounced with a flurry of heavy right hands that forced referee Yves Lavigne to rush in and halt the assault. The end came 26 seconds into the second frame.
After the win, Dillashaw thanked new Team Alpha Male coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig for improving his striking as a complement to his proven wrestling game.
“That was the best KO of my career – so far,” he said. “I knew he was out when I landed it. It was a great knee, but he sort of headbutted my knee at the same time. I followed up just in case and he was out. My knee is killing me right now.”
Dillashaw (7-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who was called on as a replacement for injured Mitch Gagnon, now boasts three straight UFC wins. Tamura (7-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC), meanwhile, has dropped back-to-back fights at 135 pounds after debuting in the UFC as a featherweight.
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Matt Erickson and Ben Fowlkes contributed to this report on-site in Montreal.