It’s the rematch that nobody seems to be talking about. Why? Is it because UFC on FOX 16 is getting lost in the mix since Saturday marks the fifth UFC event in just two weeks?
But while the card isn’t generating much hoopla, there is plenty on the line in the show’s main event between defending bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and Renan Barao (pictured), the man he dethroned just 14 months ago.
The question is, who has more to prove in their rematch?
Barao was riding a 32-fight win streak, a torrid run he ignited in 2005, and was touted by UFC president Dana White as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game prior to their initial meeting. The blazing Brazilian was a heavy 8-1 odds-on favorite to dispose of Dillashaw, but something unexpected when the cage door slammed shut – Dillashaw dominated Barao before unleashing a highlight reel TKO in the fifth round to capture the crown.
Was it a fluke? White had pushed Barao so hard as MMA’s P4P king entering the fight that he wanted to find out immediately and arranged an instant rematch.
Unfortunately for all involved, Barao had issues making weight and was pulled from UFC 177 at the last second. Dillashaw went on to posterize Joe Sotto that August evening instead.
A win is a win, but Dillashaw wanted another go with Barao to prove their first fight was no fluke and that he’ll be ruling the throne for a long time. Barao wanted to demonstrate the exact opposite, but his body failed him before he could even step into the cage.
Now fate, or the UFC’s ridiculously busy schedule, brings them to Saturday where both fighters will once again be afforded the opportunity to prove who in fact is the best in the bantamweight division.
The good news for Dillashaw is that if he loses, a rubber match is in play. The bad news for Barao is that another lopsided loss means he may never get another crack at the belt while Dillashaw holds the hardware.
I wonder what Dominick Cruz thinks of all this?