There wasn't much fanfare for the UFC 173 main event title fight between Renan Barao and T.J. Dlilashaw for Barao's bantamweight title. For starters, Barao hasn't been much of a draw in his time as interim-turned-undisputed champion, and he was expected to destroy Dillashaw without a semblance of effort. It was definitely a blowout, just not the one anybody expected.
Dillashaw drew first blood with early volume of leg kicks and uppercuts, and he almost ended it early by knocking Barao down with a thudding right hand that sent the champion to his back. T.J. went in for the kill in the closing seconds but couldn't get the knockout or the neck crank. The only thing of consequence to "hurt" Dillashaw in this fight was an accidental groin kick in the 2nd round. Otherwise, Dillashaw was making Barao look foolish. He had a clear advantage in speed, agility, timing, and power, and he was the one battering Barao with leg kicks and not the other way around. Barao was repeatedly forced to retreat or cover up as DIllashaw's lightning-fast uppercuts and hooks were coming through.
Needing only to get through the final round intact to win a decision, Dillashaw opted for the rare 5th round finish. As he'd threatened throughout the night, Dillashaw cracked Barao with a left high kick and started swarming him from there. Barao was felled by a left hand and then Herb Dean was forced to step in after he continued absorbing hard punches on the ground. Official Result: T.J. Dillashaw def. Renan Barao via TKO (head kick and punches) at 2:25 of round 5.
What was the high point of the fight?
The finish was sublime, but the initial shock of the knockdown brought the crowd to its feet. We'd never seen Barao put in that sort of position and it was a precursor for the rest of the beating that ensued.
Where do these two go from here?
Dillashaw becomes the first non-WEC fighter to win a UFC title at any weight class between flyweight and lightweight. It's one thing to win off of a single punch in an early part of the fight, but he dismantled Barao and an immediate rematch is totally unjustifiable. He will likely fight the last man to beat him, Raphael Assuncao, in his first defense.
Barao's winning streak (which ranges from 31-144 on any given day) has come to an end in emphatic fashion. Aside from a few decent moments in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, he looked completely overwhelmed and out of his element before getting stopped for the first time in his career. He's still a high-level fighter,
Watch now, later, or never?
Now. This is one of the biggest upsets in MMA history and the manner in which Dillashaw destroyed Barao is worth immediate viewing.