T.J Dillashaw’s unexpected victory over Renan Barao at UFC 173 is rightfully remembered as one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
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Facing Barao under the bright lights of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the odds were stacked against the American as the Brazilian remarkably hadn’t lost in 33 bouts heading into the clash.
The fact Barao was also considered the best pound for pound fighter in the world only added to what a challenge Dillashaw was confronted with. Dillashaw importantly still believed himself and spoke with confidence ahead of the fight, asserting: “I don’t feel any pressure coming into this fight. He’s the champion and the one who has this huge winning streak and is supposed to be unbeatable, so I think the pressure is all on his side of the table.
Courtesy of SL
“I like being the underdog and think that is great because it frees me up to fight my fight and go in there with a clear head. I can go in there loose and fight like I have no expectations on me. I think that is going to bring out my best performance. No matter what the circumstances are, there’s going to be doubters. I get to prove everyone wrong. I can’t wait to do it, I can’t wait to shut their mouths.”
Unfazed and motivated by the task at hand, Dillashaw rose to the occasion by getting off to a brilliant start. Close to knocking out Barao in the opening round, the 9-1 underdog started off on the front foot, landing some heavy shots.
Finding his range and working the angles nicely, Dillashaw dominated the fight throughout, as he continued to strike his adversary and enjoyed the upper hand. The killer blow would eventually arise in the final round when Dillashaw landed a kick on Barao’s head before finishing him off with a barrage of punches.
“I’ve dreamed it for so long, it’s unbelievable,” Dillashaw said after the fight. “If you can dream it, it can happen. Barao is the best in the world in my eyes. I had to bring my ‘A’ game to become the champion.”
Inflicting Barao’s first loss in roughly a decade, Dillashaw’s magnificent victory will live long in the memory of UFC fans on a night that he’ll never forget.