UFC 158: What's Next for T.J. Dillashaw
When T.J. Dillashaw knocked out Issei Tamura in the second round of their UFC 158 bantamweight clash, it marked the third straight time the Team Alpha Male product was victorious inside the Octagon.
The knockout of Tamura also signified Dillashaw's most impressive finish as a UFC competitor, and capped off yet another solid performance.
Since faltering in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter against John Dodson, Dillashaw has looked outstanding. He hasn't just been winning, he's been winning big.
After the Dodson loss, Dillashaw rebounded to utterly obliterate Walel Watson. He controlled the action for almost 15 straight minutes, nearly finishing the bout on a handful of occasions. The showcase exhibited his sensational wrestling, and officially announced him as a bantamweight prospect.
Next time out, Dillashaw stopped Vaughan Lee in just over two-and-a-half minutes with a neck-crank, demonstrating that he's not just capable of getting opponents down and keeping them there, but that he can finish them there as well.
At UFC 158, Dillashaw completed the trifecta, using his developing standup game to score a highlight reel head-kick and punches to knockout his Japanese counterpart.
All-in-all, Dillashaw looks to be turning into a very complete and very dangerous fighter, and rapidly. So what's on the horizon for the budding star?
I'd like to see Dillashaw get a real test at 135. The division is very deep, so the options are nearly limitless. Some viable opponents already have matches booked, but an abundance of reasonable pairings remain.
Someone like Ivan Menjivar or Takeya Mizugaki would provide a reasonable test to see whether Dillashaw is ready to break the top-10 barrier. A somewhat more ambitious venture would be the likes of Raphael Assuncao or Brian Bowles.
Whoever Dillashaw's next opponent is, look for him to be somewhere in that six to 12 range—not someone Dillashaw will get a title shot for beating, but someone that will offer a better bench mark as to precisely where he stands in the UFC's bantamweight class.
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