At UFC 173 T.J. Dillashaw put on a scientific performance against Renan Barao, dominating the former champion for almost an entire five rounds before putting him away in the middle of the last round. Barao was thought to be unbeatable, and Dillashaw beat him with near-impunity.
The rematch is set for the main event of UFC 177 on August 30, but there are other fights that may have been a better option for Dillashaw’s first bantamweight title defense. Because of Barao’s previous 33-fight unbeaten streak, he is definitely deserving of a rematch. But after such a one-sided first fight, it would be smart if Barao took on someone else and rematched Dillashaw coming off of a win.
The top of the UFC’s bantamweight division is vibrant, and there is no shortage of interesting fights for both Dillashaw or Barao. Dominick Cruz is jumping back into the fray at UFC 178, Raphael Assuncao and Brian Caraway have been booked opposite one another in October, and there’s always Urijah Faber, who is looking to return at the end of the year.
With so many viable contenders in the bantamweight division, there were numerous fighters Dillashaw could have faced in his first fight as champion. Here are three fights that would have been preferable over the Dillashaw vs. Barao immediate rematch.