Renan Barao Vs.TJ Dillashaw: What We Learned from UFC 173 Main Event

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2014

May 24, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao (red) struggles to break free of TJ Dillashaw's (blue) choke hold during their UFC 173 bantamweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Dillashaw won by way of TKO. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

As you probably saw or heard, Renan Barao was defeated by TJ Dillashaw at UFC 173. Not just defeated, either. 

"Manhandled" is an appropriate word. "Outclassed" works, too. "Slapped around" if you're feeling nasty.

It was hypnotizing.

Dillashaw outclassed Renan Barao with his striking.
Dillashaw outclassed Renan Barao with his striking.USA TODAY Sports

Slice it any way you want, Barao is a downright fearsome striker. Dillashaw, though, slipped around him, peppering him with punches and kicks to the body and head for the entire length of the fight. In the fifth round, he clipped him with a head-kick and followed it with a right hook that floored Barao. He swarmed on him with punches afterward and got referee Herb Dean to wave it off at 2:26 of the final round.

There is no way to downplay how impressive Dillashaw was. He beat the best in his weight class at his own game. Badly. He showed that he is a true champion.

Barao, meanwhile, unequivocally showed that he isn't.

That's a harsh thing to say, of course. He's a fighter who puts his life on the line in a sport that requires superhuman levels of cajones. For him to have the success he has had, he must be something special. 

And of course, Barao is something special. It's impossible to say he isn't.

The old saying, however, is that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." It holds true in MMA for all the greatest champions of today and yesterday. 

When Demetrious Johnson found himself down two rounds John Dodson, he lived up to the occasion, found his range and took the fight back after being battered through the first 10 minutes.

Jon Jones had his eye socket ventilated by Alexander Gustafsson, but kept his belt by mustering up two strong rounds against a fighter that was every bit his equal.

Johny Hendricks battled back from a beating at the hands of Robbie Lawler, and would take the fight and the belt by putting in a strong final frame. 

Barao found himself in the same situation as other champions. When his push, his looping hooks and deadly kicks were returned with an emphatic shove in the form of a right hook that put him on his butt in the first round? He backed down.

Barao had none of the cool confidence he usually has after Dillashaw started landing.
Barao had none of the cool confidence he usually has after Dillashaw started landing.USA TODAY Sports

From that point on in the fight, he was tentative. Slow. Dare I say it...scared. That invited Dillashaw to expand his lead and, even as his coaches and cornermen begged for him to take the fight to the ground, he reared back, putting forward a token resistance, but little else.

So what did we learn? 

Renan Barao doesn't have the heart of a champion. This may change, of course. He still has plenty of years left in the sport, and we've seen legends in the sport battle back from worse than this loss right here.

Right now, though, he just isn't up to snuff with TJ Dillashaw. Never even mind all those fighters who have always sat above him on the pound-for-pound lists.