When bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw successfully defended his title Saturday night against Joe Soto at UFC 177, he proved that he belongs in the conversation as one of the pound-for-pound toughest men in the sport.
The results of the pay-per-view were much more entertaining than the card should have been. The event felt incredibly lackluster after several injuries and misses at weight, though, including the removal of Renan Barao from the main event just 48 hours before the show.
Here are the full results from UFC 177, a breakdown of the main event and where each fighter goes from here.
|T.J. Dillashaw (c)||def.||Joe Soto||Bantamweight||KO|
|Tony Ferguson||def.||Danny Castillo||Lightweight||Decision (split)|
|Bethe Correia||def.||Shayna Baszler||Women's Bantamweight||TKO|
|Carlos Diego Ferreira||def.||Ramsey Nijem||Lightweight||TKO|
|Yancy Medeiros||def.||Damon Jackson||Lightweight||Submission|
|Derek Brunson||def.||Lorenz Larkin||Middleweight||Decision (unanimous)|
|Anthony Hamilton||def.||Ruan Potts||Heavyweight||TKO|
|Chris Wade||def.||Cain Carrizosa||Lightweight||Technical Submission|
Breaking Down the Main Event
The main event of UFC 177 was going to be the rematch between Dillashaw and Barao for the bantamweight championship, but Barao was forced to pull out of the fight before weigh-ins when he passed out and was taken to the hospital, according to Shaun Al-Shatti of MMAFighting.com.
The last-second scratch forced Dana White and UFC officials to promote Joe Soto from a fight against Anthony Birchak to the main event. Fortunately for the company, Soto proved his worth by giving Dillashaw a serious challenge in his first showing with his new employer.
Both Dillashaw and Soto were preparing for a different fight on Saturday night, but each was put on an even playing field when they were reassigned each other. While Soto deserves immense credit for taking this fight and forcing this bout to the fifth round, Dillashaw was the superior competitor throughout the matchup.
Remember how rare 5th round finishes were in the UFC? Dillashaw has now done it twice. Cain once. Demetrious Johnson once.— Mookie Alexander (@mookiealexander) August 31, 2014
Using his elite striking, Dillashaw forced Soto into a defensive game plan. Soto did manage to block many of the heaviest shots from the champion, but the constant attacks began to take their toll as the fight wore on. By the time the fifth round began, Soto was clearly tiring, and Dillashaw took advantage.
Dillashaw continued to pick his challenger apart until he landed a devastating head kick and followed it up with a heavy punch to the head. The combination sent Soto to the mat and forced the referee to step in and ensure the fight was over.
Now that Dillashaw is still champion, it’s time to determine what’s next for the bantamweight star. After the win, he told Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com, “I'm not really sure [who's next]. My mind has been on Renan Barao the last four months. I haven't thought of anyone else. I would like a little break. After that, I'll fight anybody the UFC wants to put in front of me -- and I'll beat them.”
Despite White claiming that Barao would not get a title shot upon his return, via Mookie Alexander of BloodyElbow.com, the rematch between the champion and the former divisional king is the biggest possible bout he could book.
White and UFC officials must do what is best for business. Barao hurt the company with his inability to make the fight Saturday, but he is still the biggest name in the division besides the champion. After the shocking outcome of the first fight and the tease of the rematch, there would be a serious buzz when Dillashaw vs. Barao II finally happens.
Does Renan Barao deserve to fight T. J. Dillashaw next?
On the other hand, Soto should be rewarded for his valiant performance and be given a marquee opponent for his second fight under the UFC banner. The former Bellator champion was unable to dethrone Dillashaw, but it would be interesting to see how Soto handles Barao if White stays true to his word and doesn't award the Brazilian a title shot.
The perfect scenario would be UFC booking Dillashaw vs. Assuncao and Soto vs. Barao on the same PPV card. If Dillashaw and Barao both won their respective fights, the rematch MMA fans never knew they wanted would finally come to fruition.
*Stats via UFC.com.