TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Barao 1, UFC 173, 24 May 2014
Fight of the Night
TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Barao is an instant classic. This is what MMA is all about. Technique and Heart. TJ Dillashaw comes into this fight as one of the biggest underdogs in UFC history. But this night, fight fans around the world witness something special happen inside the cage. There is magic in the air and for five mesmerizing rounds we are swept away by the speed, the accuracy, and the footwork of TJ Dillashaw.
Coming into TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Barao, Renan Barao is the defending Bantamweight Champion. He fights out of the famous Nova Uniao camp where he trains with UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. Renan Barao has not been defeated in 33 fights spanning over 9 years. Many fight fans and fight critics would argue that Renan Barao is the ultimate MMA fighter. His striking, his technique, his speed, his grappling, his creativity in the ring. Displayed in fights such as his incredible submissions of Chris Cariaso, Brad Pickett, and Michael McDonald. His power and creativity displayed in TKOs against Eddie Wineland, and Urijah Faber.
Many would argue that Renan Barao, as Bantamweight Champion, had run out of top contenders to fight. He had basically defeated all the relevant contenders in the weight division and there was no one left to contest the belt. The UFC seemingly randomly put a fight together with TJ Dillashaw challenging for the championship and the result was TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Barao UFC 173.
At this point, fight fans recognized TJ Dillashaw as runner up in season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter: Bisping vs Miller. Fight fans also know that starting at the end of 2012, Team Alpha Male took on Duane “Bang” Ludwig as their head coach. The relationship of teacher and student between Duane and TJ developed quickly and the results could be seen immediately. In just three months of training, TJ fought Issei Tamura. Fight fans could see that TJ’s footwork was evolving and he was putting together some new and interesting combinations. His fight was Hugo Viana and Raphael Assuncao we could see more and more as TJ developed and sharpened his skills with Duane Ludwig. By the time TJ fought Mike Easton, he had been training with Duane Ludwig for only one year. The changes were phenomenal. TJ had moved away from relying on his wrestling base to become a full fledged advanced striker that was able to leverage his excellent wrestling base to get the advantage.
By the time TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Barao came, TJ Dillashaw had made another quantum leap in his skills. TJ Dillashaw had found his flow. The fight was magnificent. TJ Dillashaw was expected to lose. Renan Barao was expected to add a highlight reel finish to his archive. How wrong we all were. Under those Saturday night lights we witness the dance that swept everyone, including Renan Baroa, off our feet.
TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Barao full fight video