UFC Fight Night 35: What We Learned from Mike Easton vs. TJ Dillashaw

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2014

Oct 9, 2013; Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Raphael Assuncao  (blue shorts) fights against  TJ Dillashaw (black shorts) during UFC Fight Night 29 at Jose Correa Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

UFC Fight Night 35 offered up plenty of fun tilts for MMA fans seeking a Wednesday night fix, and the bantamweight bout between Mike Easton and TJ Dillashaw was no different.

Crammed between the Brunson-Romero barnburner and the evening's co-main event, it might have been easy to forget about. But fortunately the highly-ranked 135ers had plenty of interest in reminding people, scrapping their way to an enjoyable decision win for Dillashaw.


What We'll Remember About This Fight

That it was the type of fight that you can see in the lighter weight classes when guys are matched up properly. The speed, quickness and technique of Dillashaw against the size and strength of Easton really came together to make an interesting fight.

Even going in, this one probably should have been in the co-main event slot. Neither guy was far from a title shot, and Dillashaw is even closer now.


What We Learned About Mike Easton

That he'll struggle at times with men who outmatch him in the athleticism department. He's got guts for days and plenty of talent in his own right, but when you put him in there with an athlete of Dillashaw's level it's going to give him problems.

The loss won't hurt him greatly, especially in a thin division, but he needs to learn how to handle guys who can fight to his weaknesses or he'll never get out of the lower half of the top 10.


What We Learned About TJ Dillashaw

That he continues to improve at a frightening pace. Even in his loss to Raphael Assuncao in the fall he looked great, and he looked even better in skinning Easton at UFN 35. His striking is better than ever, his awareness in the cage is approaching veteran levels and his confidence is sky-high.

The Alpha Male product is the first of the next wave of guys coming from the gym to clearly trend upward, and it's scary to think where he'll be by this time next year.


What's Next for Easton

The loss doesn't really diminish his stock a great deal, as he did all he does well. It just didn't work out for him tonight, and he actually might score some points for durability. A bout with equally durable, similarly ranked Takeya Mizugaki might be a fun one.


What's Next for Dillashaw

It's time for Dillashaw to swim with the sharks. His performances against solid contenders coupled with his obvious rate of improvement indicate he's ready to get in there with someone near the top of the class and see what happens.

Give him Michael McDonald. He'll be eager for revenge coming off a loss to Alpha Male kingpin Urijah Faber, and he'll be a great test for Dillashaw.