There is not much buzz surrounding the UFC 177 pay-per-view after several marquee fights were removed from the card, and the task of selling the event to casual fans got tougher with the removal of former champion Renan Barao from the main event, according to UFC.com.
UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw will now defend his title against Joe Soto.
This is terrible news for the fight fans who were actually excited about this card. While there is always a chance Soto could stun Dillashaw the same way Barao was stunned in the first fight, there is no mainstream appeal to this card.
Dillashaw vs. Soto is a solid fight, but it’s not worthy of a PPV main event. Here is the full fight card, predicted winners in every fight and a preview of Saturday's top bout.
|Weight Class||Fighter 1||Fighter 2||Predicted Winner|
|Bantamweight||T.J. Dillashaw (c)||vs.||Joe Soto||Dillashaw|
|Lightweight||Tony Ferguson||vs.||Danny Castillo||Castillo|
|Women's Bantamweight||Bethe Correia||vs.||Shayna Baszler||Correia|
|Lightweight||Ramsey Nijem||vs.||Carlos Diego Ferreira||Nijem|
|Lightweight||Yancy Medeiros||vs.||Damon Jackson||Jackson|
|Middleweight||Lorenz Larkin||vs.||Derek Brunson||Larkin|
|Flyweight||Scott Jorgensen||vs.||Henry Cejudo||Jorgensen|
|Heavyweight||Ruan Potts||vs.||Anthony Hamilton||Hamilton|
|Lightweight||Chris Wade||vs.||Cain Carrizosa||Wade|
Breaking Down the Main Event
The main event of UFC 177 should have been the rematch between Dillashaw and Barao for the bantamweight championship, but according to Damon Martin of FoxSports.com, Barao fainted during the weight-cutting portion of the fight prep and his team was forced to call an ambulance.
Barao was taken to the hospital after suffering from “extreme dehydration,” according to Martin, and was removed from the main event. UFC president Dana White also said in the same article that the former champion will not be awarded a title shot when he is cleared to compete again.
MMA fanatic Joe Rogan was adamant about his opinion of the card (some language NSFW):
Holy shit... This card is cursed— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) August 29, 2014
Former WWE wrestler CM Punk also chimed in on the situation:
I'm not sure I can cut to 135 in time.— Coach (@CMPunk) August 29, 2014
Now that Barao is on the sideline, it’s Joe Soto’s time to shine.
Soto is a gifted bantamweight who will be making his debut with the UFC on Saturday night in the main event. The former Bellator featherweight champion was a dominant force in both Bellator and Tachi Palace Fights, going 15-2 during his time in both promotions.
Out of Soto’s 15 victories, eight came via submission and five came via knockout or TKO, making him a legitimate threat to any fighter he steps in the Octagon with. The new challenger currently holds a six-fight winning streak as well.
Even Soto himself took to Twitter to thank the fans for their unwavering support:
Thank you everyone for all the love and support!— Joe Soto (@JoeSoto135) August 29, 2014
The biggest key of the fight will be how Dillashaw reacts to the change in style and game plan. Soto and Barao are different fighters with different strengths and weaknesses. Barao is a striker who possesses a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. For the weeks leading up to this fight, Dillashaw had likely been working on his striking and defending the clinch.
Instead of getting what he expected, Dillashaw will now square off with a challenger with an extensive background in wrestling (Soto went to school with Jon Jones and Cain Velasquez) and a unique mixture of power in his striking and submission prowess.
For Dillashaw, this is an entirely different fight. Fortunately for the champion, he has a wrestling background of his own and has won seven of his 12 career fights by knockout or submission. The defending champion has prepared for this fight and is in elite physical shape, so it’s just a matter of switching up the game plan.
Who ya got?
The defensive game plan will not make fans happy, but Dillashaw did not prepare to fight Soto and must be cautious of his power and quickness. Soto was a champion in two other companies, and Dillashaw’s camp will quickly develop a scouting report to catch its fighter up to speed.
There are low expectations for this fight after Barao pulled out, but the hope now is that both men engage in a classic fight that involves plenty of back-and-forth action and makes UFC fans forget about the previously scheduled main event.
Predicted Winner: Dillashaw Wins via TKO.
Stats via UFC.com.