UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw mimicked his fight from earlier this year Saturday night, landing a fifth-round head-kick that finished Joe Soto in the main event of UFC 177.
Dillashaw did the same to then-champion Renan Barao, a fight he was well ahead on in earning the title. In front of his hometown fans in Sacramento, the Team Alpha Male fighter came alive late.
After using his striking to pile up a significant advantage in terms of punches landed, Dillashaw threw up a head-kick that connected perfectly. As Soto wobbled, he hit him with a right and ended it.
Dillashaw (11-2) was scheduled to face Barao in a rematch, but the Brazilian suffered an injury while cutting weight. The short-notice change in opponents seemed to play a factor in his offense.
“It’s been crazy,” Dillashaw said. “An hour before making weight you find out (your opponent) isn’t making weight and you are fighting a tough opponent like Joe Soto. It was a tough call, but I wanted to do it for Sacramento.
“There was no way I wasn’t going to put on a show for you guys and save the night.”
Dillashaw admitted that knowing Soto was a standout wrestler changed what he wanted to do, adding, “I had to be more hesitant with my stand-up. He’s a tough guy and I put it on him.”
With Barao removed from his role as a top contender for the time being, Dillashaw said he wants to take some time off before returning to the Octagon again.
“My mind was on Renan Barao for the last four months,” he said. “I will fight anybody that the UFC puts in front of me, and I’m gonna beat them.”
Front-Page Photo Credit: Kyle Terada