UFC 177 will have to go on without half of its scheduled main event.
Renan Barao was expected to battle T.J. Dillashaw for the UFC Bantamweight Championship, but the 27-year-old fighter has dropped out of the event, according to Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting:
Renan Barao out of UFC 177, @canalCombate reports. Wow.— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) August 29, 2014
According to the report, Barao passed out while cutting weight. Oh my.— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) August 29, 2014
Dave Sholler of UFC.com provides the latest details on the changes:
Breaking @SportsCenter: Barao out of UFC 177 after feeling poorly during weight cut. Joe Soto steps into title fight vs. Dillashaw.— Dave Sholler (@Sholler_UFC) August 29, 2014
The Brazilian fighter has been one of the best fighters in the weight class for nearly 10 years while working his way to the title. Unfortunately, he came up short in his latest defense at UFC 173, as Dillashaw came through with a fifth-round knockout to earn the title.
Barao told Dave Doyle of Yahoo Sports that he simply lost focus in the first match: "I got too comfortable. Did I believe what they said about me? Maybe. I have become humble again."
While this rematch was one of the more highly anticipated battles of the year, it will apparently have to wait if it ever happens at all.
Instead, Soto will step in on Saturday with a huge opportunity to shock the world. Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting provides a little background on the fighter:
Renan Barao is out of UFC 177. Joe Soto steps in on 24 hours notice to fight TJ Dillashaw for the title.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 29, 2014
Joe Soto just fought on 8/7. He is the former Bellator 145 champ and TPF 135 champ.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 29, 2014
The 27-year-old American has a 15-2 record in his MMA career. His last match was less than a month ago against Terrion Ware at TPF 20, which ended by third-round submission.
While an upset seems incredibly unlikely, it will certainly be a memorable 48 hours for the unknown fighter.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.