We have a new champion.
Heavy underdog T.J. Dillashaw battered and upended Brazilian dynamo Renan Barao at UFC 173 Saturday night to capture the UFC bantamweight belt.
The official result was a TKO victory at 2:22 of the fifth and final round.
"I've dreamed this for so long," Dillashaw said in his post-fight comments. "Barao's the best in the world in my eyes...that's what brought it out in me."
Dillashaw served notice early on that this would not be a normal fight for Barao. The challenger charged forward often and toward the end of the first round cracked and floored Barao with a heavy right hand. Though Dillashaw was unable to finish the fight at that moment despite a swarm of follow-up strikes, the blow appeared to put a fog on Barao that never fully lifted.
Nevertheless, the Brazilian fought gamely as the rounds wore on, landing leg kicks and stifling several takedown attempts from the former Cal State Fullerton wrestler. Through it all, though, Dillashaw remained light on his feet, staying clear of Barao's attack and stalking down the champion when the openings arose.
Barao finally succumbed in the fifth frame, but there was no fluke about this one. Dillashaw was the better and more aggressive fighter from horn to horn. And now he's the new UFC bantamweight champion.
According to official UFC statistics provider FightMetric, Dillashaw landed 140 of 309 significant strikes, for a 45 percent clip. Barao, by contrast, connected on just 64 of 273 significant strike attempts, for a 23 percent success rate.
It was the first professional loss for Barao since his professional debut, all the way back in 2005.
The 28-year-old Dillashaw, who first gained notoriety as a cast member on the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter, is now 10-2 as a pro. Barao, 27, is now 32-2 (1).