UFC 177 Results: 3 Fights for TJ Dillashaw to Take Next
On Saturday night, T.J. Dillashaw looked to defend his UFC bantamweight title for the first time against former Bellator bantamweight champion Joe Soto at UFC 177. Dillashaw had originally been scheduled to face the former champion, Renan Barao, but Barao was forced to pull out just hours before the weigh-ins Friday.
Soto was definitely game, as he was able to keep up with Dillashaw and was never really out of the fight until the fifth round. About halfway through the final frame, Dillashaw ended a long combination with a right head kick that simply dropped Soto. One more punch was all it took, and the fight was over.
That marks Dillashaw's second straight fifth-round finish and also makes him the only fighter in UFC history with two fifth-round finishes.
Dillashaw is now on a three-fight win streak and has several interesting options for his next title defense. According to Dana White, Barao is not an option, but let's check out three other choices for Dillashaw's next fight.
Raphael Assuncao is 6-0 at bantamweight, including two finishes and a Fight of the Night award. Also, he's the only person in the division who holds a win over Dillashaw.
He arguably deserved a title shot against Barao before Dillashaw did, but now that Dillashaw has the title, Assuncao thinks it's his for the taking.
Assuncao's last loss came in March 2011 when he was still in the featherweight division, as he was knocked out by Erik Koch.
He is currently scheduled to face Bryan Caraway on October 4 at UFC Fight Night 54, and should he emerge victorious, he'll have a seven-fight win streak, and nobody should be able to deny him his shot.
Dominick Cruz/Takeya Mizugaki Winner
On September 27, Dominick Cruz is scheduled to fight for the first time in nearly three full years. Cruz has been out since October 2011, when he defended the bantamweight title against current flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson.
Cruz never actually lost the title, he was stripped after being out due to injury for an extended period of time. He could have possibly gotten an immediate title shot upon his return if he'd wanted it.
Cruz is scheduled to face Takeya Mizugaki, who has been on the best run of his career over the past two years.
Mizugaki has won five straight, all by decision. His biggest win in that stretch came over Bryan Caraway, who otherwise has won five of his last six.
A fight with Cruz is a huge step for Mizugaki, and should he win—and Cruz look at least halfway decent—Mizugaki may be able to parlay that into a title shot.
For Cruz, a fight with Mizugaki is a solid comeback fight. Mizugaki is a game opponent, always tough and presents a winnable fight. Should Cruz come out victorious, he could definitely get a title shot.
Iuri Alcantara is a bit of a wild card in the title picture right now. He is currently ranked No. 7 in the bantamweight division and is on a two-fight win streak.
Two fights isn't much, but his last win was a 25-second knockout, which always looks impressive.
Overall, Alcantara is 3-1 [1 NC] in the division, with the lone loss coming from Urijah Faber by unanimous decision.
Alcantara is currently scheduled to face Russell Doane on September 13 at UFC Fight Night 51, and should he earn another quick finish—and depending on the other contenders in the division—he has a small chance to be next in line for a shot at the belt.