T.J. Dillashaw – When I'm Wrong, I'm Wrong
It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong.
Before the main event of UFC 173, my feelings about both the 135lb champion Renan Barão and his challenger T.J. Dillashaw amounted more or less to "meh". I had nothing against either fighter, but I've always felt neutral on Barao and I couldn't pick Dillashaw out of a lineup if you put a gun to my head. This was a thrown together fight that was going to play out like Barao's previous fights and just be par for the course for another Alpha Male fighter. I even joked that it was a surprise that the UFC was charging people for the event instead of putting it on TV. But I picked Barao by KO/TKO in the second round and I felt very confident in that decision netting me an easy 11 points in the BECW...
Well I was wrong, BIG time.
After the end of the first round, I figured the fight would play out like Barao/Wineland did, the challenger has a good first round and then BAM, his lights get turned out. But I sat there and watched T.J. spend another 20 minutes putting a beatdown on a champion the likes of which I haven't seen since Jones/Shogun several years ago.
My thoughts of posting a picture of the Soup Nazi with the caption "Alpha Male: NO BELT FOR YOU!" faded away as the rounds progressed, and then they switched to "Could he do it? Could he be the one to end the Alpha Male curse?". And before the end of the 5th round, I had my answer, he knocked out the man who hadn't "been beaten in 35 fights" and claimed the UFC Bantamweight championship.
With tears rolling down his face, his shiny new belt was warped around his waist while his trainers and team mates cheered him on. He had just pulled off a real life version of Rocky. A heavy heavy heavy underdog stepped into the cage with an unstoppable champion and didn't just prove that he had every right to be there, but he knocked the king off his mountain top and planted his own flag at the peak.
It isn't often I'm happy to be proven wrong, but this was one of those times. Before last night, if I had ever seen Dillashaw fight then the memory didn't stick with me. But after last night? The next time he fights I'll be there with bells on. Say I'm just jumping on the bandwagon, but the man has earned my full and undivided attention.