Renan Barao vs. TJ Dillashaw: Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Sean SmithAnalyst IMay 18, 2014

Renan Barao vs. TJ Dillashaw: Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    He's only 27 years old, but Renan Barao could match MMA legends Chuck Liddell, Frank Shamrock and Pat Miletich with a fourth consecutive UFC title defense on Saturday.

    In his most recent outing, Barao stopped Urijah Faber with strikes in the first round. Following another Dominick Cruz injury, it was Barao's first appearance as undisputed champion. Now the Brazilian is lined up to battle a Faber training partner in TJ Dillashaw.

    Since losing to John Dodson in The Ultimate Fighter 14 finale, Dillashaw has won five of six fights. The Team Alpha Male fighter has only lost to Raphael Assuncao during that span, and that bout ended in a controversial split decision. According to MMADecisions.com, many MMA media members felt Dillashaw should have earned a win over Assuncao.

    Justice may have been served, as Dillashaw will get his shot at the 135-pound championship before Assuncao, who is currently injured. Here is a closer look at how Dillashaw might match up with Barao in all areas.

Striking

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    With two submissions in two WEC appearances, Barao entered the UFC as a fighter who appeared most dangerous on the ground. However, he's recently proven equally dangerous when standing.

    The bantamweight champion has knocked out Faber and Eddie Wineland in his past two outings. Both opponents were more proven than Dillashaw, who still only has one victory over a Top 15 bantamweight.

    Dillashaw is an excellent athlete and has been rapidly improving his striking. However, he's still not as tight defensively as the 135-pound king. 

    Although Barao might not be as quick as Dodson, he's equally dangerous. The aggressive and unpredictable titleholder might not be the most accurate striker, landing only 36 percent of his strikes thrown, but he makes it count when he does land them.

    Never stopped in 33 career bouts, Barao is more likely to finish this fight if it remains standing. 

    Edge: Barao

Takedowns

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    An accomplished amateur wrestler, Dillashaw was expected to use his takendowns in his rise to the top of the bantamweight division.

    Battling for UFC gold only seven fights into his career with the promotion, he has reached his lofty potential. In his past six outings, he has scored 12 takedowns. He's recorded at least one takedown against each of those opponents.

    Dominating all his opponents inside the Octagon, Barao has not been taken down since joining the UFC roster. Faber and Scott Jorgensen were not able to take the champion to the ground, but Dillashaw possesses comparable takedowns.

    He's not going to be able to take Barao down regularly either, but Dillashaw has also never been taken down inside the Octagon. If either fighter is able to secure a takedown in this matchup, it's more likely to be Dillashaw than Barao. 

    Edge: Dillashaw

Grappling

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    For all his recent success with striking, Barao is even better on the ground.

    The Brazilian has more submission victories than Dillashaw has MMA wins. Michael McDonald, Brad Pickett and Chris Cariaso have all tapped out against Barao, who isn't one to stall when his fights go to the canvas.

    Dillashaw has never been submitted, but Barao will be the most dangerous grappler he's faced. The Team Alpha Male fighter is also not nearly as threatening as Barao offensively when he goes to the ground. Dillashaw has only submitted Vaughan Lee since joining the UFC roster in December 2011.

    Both fighters are going to have a hard time bringing the other down. However, should this fight somehow hit the floor, Barao will be much more capable of securing a submission.

    Edge: Barao

Intangibles

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    Barao and Dillashaw are both making relatively quick turnarounds. While Dillashaw has been out of action longer, he last competed four months ago, so rust should not be a problem for either man.

    Conditioning shouldn't be a factor either. Although Barao has more experience in the fourth and fifth rounds, Dillashaw has not shown any conditioning issues in his past appearances.

    One angle that could play a factor in this matchup is Faber's experience opposite Barao. "The California Kid" has spent more than 28 minutes inside the Octagon with Barao, and that will no doubt help with Dillashaw's preparation, as he trains with Faber daily. 

    Edge: Dillashaw

Prediction

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    Dillashaw is a serious talent, but it seems Barao has already disposed of his biggest threats in the bantamweight division.

    If Faber and Jorgensen weren't able to shut him down with wrestling, Barao should be able to deny most Dillashaw takedown attempts. If he does find a way to ground Barao, he'll still be rolling with the best grappler in the 135-pound division.

    More likely, neither fighter is going to have much success taking this fight to the canvas. Dillashaw is going to have a tough time matching Barao's pace or becoming the first fighter to stop the champion. Barao, on the other hand, should find a way to put Dillashaw away within five rounds. 

     

    Prediction

    Barao defeats Dillashaw by (T)KO in the second round.

     

    Statistics via FightMetric.com.