TJ Dillashaw (blue) pins down Renan Barao (red) during their UFC 173 bantamweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Photo by Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
MANILA – In a shocking upset, TJ Dillashaw dominated Brazilian Renan Barao in the main event of UFC 173 to become the new UFC bantamweight champion Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Dillashaw, a huge underdog against the defending champion Barao, controlled the pace of the round from start to finish. He landed several flush shots – including a right hand that dropped Barao in the opening frame – and kept the Brazilian on the defensive.
Dillashaw finally ended the bout in the fifth round when he sent the now bloodied Barao to the canvas and landed a series of unanswered punches that forced the referee to stop the bout at the 2:26 mark.
With the victory, Dillashaw became the new UFC bantamweight champion and simultaneously ended Barao’s stunning 32-fight undefeated streak.
"I've been looking up to the guy. He'’s the best in the world, and that brought the best out of me," Dillashaw said, as quoted by UFC.com. "I had to bring my A-game."
Aside from his purse, Dillashaw received a total of $100,000 in bonuses after picking up the "Fight of the Night" and "Performance of the Night" honors.
"I’'ve dreamed of this for so long," said Dillashaw, who hiked his record to 11-2 after the fight. "All you have to do is believe, man."
Barao was gracious in defeat, saying: "It was a really tough fight. I congratulate him, it was his fight tonight. But I’m coming back."
Barao became the interim UFC bantamweight champion in July 2012 after beating Urijah Faber; he defended the interim belt twice, against Michael McDonald in February 2013 and Eddie Wineland in September 2013.
He became the undisputed UFC bantamweight champion at UFC 169 last February, when he defeated Faber in their rematch.
In the undercard, light-heavyweight contender Daniel Cormier defeated veteran Dan Henderson by rear naked choke at the 3:53 mark of the final round.
Cormier easily evaded Henderson’s vaunted right hand and took the fight to the mats, out-wrestling “Hendo” all throughout and eventually clinching a rear naked choke that his foe could not get out of.
In a welterweight showdown, Robbie Lawler defeated Jake Ellenberger via stoppage in the third round.