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UFC 173: TJ Dillashaw takes belt from Renan Barao

Renan Barao (L) was not prepared for TJ Dillashaw's tactics at UFC 173. Photo courtesy Dana White's Twitter page.

TJ Dillashaw put in a masterful performance at UFC 173 in becoming the forth Ultimate Fighter to become champion, and he did it against a man many believe to be pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world, Brazilian Renan Barao. It’s ironic, though, that the Urijah Faber Alpha Male fighter did it fighting in a zig-zagging, stance-switching style a la former champion and Faber nemesis, Dominick Cruz (vacated due to injury). 

But full points to Dillashaw. A lot of fans and pundits thought he didn’t even deserve the shot. It seemed as if a lot of Alpha Male fighters were destined to live out their UFC careers as #1 contenders.

TJ continuously moved laterally,  in and out of range, and never stopped believing. Barao remained dangerous in exchanges, but never threatened the new champ. He was baffled almost the entire fight. Footwork and constant movement have that affect. 

Considering his opponent, the sheer domination, and the TKO finish, one could argue this was the best performance in UFC history. Barao, his head bowed,  vowed to come back. It’ll probably take a couple of days for Dillashaw’s accomplishment to completely sink in.

Light heavyweights 

Longtime legend Dan Henderson took on undefeated rising star Daniel Cormier in a fight thought to propel the winner to a title shot. Henderson’s heavy power---especially in his right hand---superb clinch fighting and anvil jaw were pitted against a natural heavyweight who probably outweighed him by 30 pounds on fight night. Cormier is fast, too, with fluid combos. Both men were Olympic wrestlers.

No one expected Cormier to toss and ragdoll Hendo the way he did, though. It was like watching Dan Severn fighting strikers completely unversed in grappling back in the early UFCs. DC rode Hendo and battered him the entire fight until the choke late in the third. DC trains with heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez, and displayed that kind of relentlessness and stamina to the end. 

A lot of fans thought coming in that DC could challenge Jon 'Bones' Jones for the 205 pound belt. A lot of fans thought DC would need another tuner. This fight showed DC has the strength and power to out-wrestle Jones, a stellar and unique wrestler himself. 

It’s not that DC will beat Jones, or become champ. It’s not that he’s unbeatable. It’s just hard to imagine anyone at 205 who DC isn’t capable of beating.

Click here for all the results. 

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