TJ Dillashaw's Win over Renan Barao Leaves Jose Aldo as the Only Brazilian Champ

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TJ Dillashaw's Win over Renan Barao Leaves Jose Aldo as the Only Brazilian Champ
USA TODAY Sports

TJ Dillashaw dethroned former bantamweight champion Renan Barao at UFC 173, and just like that, Jose Aldo became the last UFC champion waving the Brazilian flag. 

If we go back less than two years to July 2012, there were four Brazilian champions in eight divisions. 

Junior dos Santos ruled the heavyweight division, Anderson "The Spider" Silva was still the greatest fighter in the world at middleweight and Jose Aldo and Renan Barao stood tall above the rest of the featherweight and bantamweight divisions, respectively. 

Dos Santos was the first to lose his strap.

In December 2012, dos Santos was battered for five rounds by Cain Velasquez at UFC 155. He would challenge Velasquez again at UFC 166 in October 2013, but the Brazilian would come up even shorter this time around, getting stopped in the fight's final frame.  

Between those two heavyweight title fights, Silva was famously knocked out by Chris Weidman at UFC 162. It was a win that nobody saw coming—not like that, at least—and it prompted an immediate rematch. 

Like dos Santos, Silva would fail in his second bid at regaining the title.

That left only Barao and Aldo, and neither man looked remotely vincible during his run as champion. These two guys were here to stay. 

Barao hadn't lost in nine years going into his UFC 173 showdown with Dillashaw, and even though the Team Alpha Male product had looked good during his UFC career, he didn't appear to be the man to defeat the inhuman Barao.

Dillashaw had good wrestling and knockout power, so what? The Brazilian had already defeated arguably the hardest puncher in the division in Michael McDonald via submission, and he dispatched one of the division's finest grapplers and Dillashaw's teammate, Urijah Faber, twice, each time with little effort. 

What did Dillashaw have to offer that Barao hadn't already seen? 

At UFC 173, we found out. 

Dillashaw had a perfect game plan, complex footwork, huge power and the will to succeed. It was too much for Barao to handle, and Dillashaw finished the fight via TKO in the fifth round. 

The win was shocking, and it was equal parts devastating for Brazilian fans, as an American once again snagged one of their coveted titles. 

MMA is an undeniably volatile sport, and in just two years, Brazilians went from owning half of the UFC titles to owning just one out of eight (12.5 percent of them for you math people out there). 

And now Jose Aldo, the last Brazilian standing, is booked to fight another Team Alpha Male product in Chad Mendes at UFC 176 in August. 

Like Dillashaw, Mendes boasts huge knockout power and incredible athleticism. "Money" is, in many ways, a featherweight version of Dillashaw. We haven't seen the kind of footwork Dillashaw showed against Barao from Mendes, but then again, we hadn't seen it look that good from Dillashaw himself until he fought for the title. 

There's no telling how much Mendes has improved since his last fight, and there's no doubt that he presents a significant challenge to Aldo as they head toward their much-anticipated rematch. 

Aldo won the first fight via knockout in Round 1, but Mendes has won five straight since that time, scoring a knockout in four of them.

If Aldo is not on top of his game, Mendes' streak might get pushed to six, and Brazil will lose its last titleholder.

My, how things can change in this sport.  

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