T.J. Dillashaw saw a four fight winning streak come to a halt when he dropped a closely contested split decision to Raphael Assuncao at UFC Fight Night 29. Dillashaw will look to return to his winning ways when he faces Mike Easton on January 15 at UFC Fight Night 35.
Had Dillashaw (8-2) defeated Assuncao, he most likely would have found himself under consideration for an elimination bout to face the winner of the February 1 contest between bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and interim champion Renan Barao. Instead, Dillashaw, the No. 7 ranked 135-pounder will face No. 8 ranked Mike Easton (13-3) in Duluth, Georgia, with the winner of the fight hoping to take a step back toward title contention.
Dillashaw recently spoke to MMAJunkie radio about the upcoming fight, and admitted that while the loss to the now No. 4 ranked Assuncao weighed heavy on his mind in the immediate aftermath of the fight it also served as a positive, "It kind of just fueled my fire to get back training as soon as possible. I knew that there were things that I could have done better to solidify the win, and things that I could have done that I need to improve on," Dillashaw said. "If I would have just gotten that choke I probably would have not found out that there were things I needed to work on, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise that I got that win taken away from me."
One flaw that Dillashaw acknowledged taking away from the Assuncao fight was that he was that he had become too fixated on getting the knockout. The Team Alpha Male fighter said that for the Easton fight he worked on putting more combinations together, hoping to get more "touches" on his opponent rather than looking for that one big strike that would end the fight.
In addition to pointing out a flaw in his own game, Dillashaw offered up one aspect of Easton's attack that he feels he can take advantage of when the two meet. Dillashaw said that he feels Easton is an aggressive fighter in the first round, but the he tends to fade as the fight progresses, "I'm hoping he brings that fast pace," Dillashaw said. "Because I'm going to try and push even faster and try and wear him out." From there, Dillashaw said he will be looking for the finish and hopefully a second consecutive Fight of the Night bonus.
UFC Fight Night 35 will take place on January 15 from The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. The main event will be a middleweight contest between Luke Rockhold and Costa Philippou.
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