MMA journalist Ariel Helwani reported on Wednesday’s episode of UFC Tonight that the UFC was close to booking a bantamweight championship rematch between Dillashaw and Barao. The bout would likely take place on the August 30 fight card in Sacramento.
Dillashaw, who entered the first bout as an 8-1 underdog, made oddsmakers look silly by netting a fifth-round TKO stoppage over Barao. Many considered the Brazilian to be one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but he never had an answer for Dillashaw’s speed and ability to change angles and keep him guessing on the feet.
Dillashaw not only dethroned Barao but also snapped a 32-fight unbeaten streak.
The general consensus is that Dillashaw’s dominance warrants a new opponent, particularly Raphael Assuncao. The Brazilian bantamweight was initially set to contend for the UFC title, and he is the last fighter to record a win over Dillashaw.
But, like every great champion, the UFC appears to be rewarding Barao’s past greatness with an opportunity to hit the rewind button. UFC President Dana White hinted at the rematch during a media scrum in June (h/t BloodyElbow.com):
Tell me if I’m wrong. As we sat there and started looking through the list of guys to fight T.J., how do you not give it to Barao, the guy who was undefeated all those years? I agree he got a five-round a** whooping and got finished, but how does it make sense to not give him the rematch? And who doesn’t want to see it? I want to see it.
Marlon Sandro, Barao’s teammate, recently pinned the loss on the UFC in an elongated rant on Instagram. He called the UFC “crooks” for not giving the former champ ample time to rest and “forcing” him to fight Dillashaw after having just fought Urijah Faber in February.
Will a second time be the charm for Barao? More importantly, does he even deserve it?
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.