Tylor Jeffery Dillashaw completed a storybook ending for his coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig by capturing Team Alpha Male’s first ever UFC championship. Dillashaw did so with a 5-round masterful performance over reigning champion and pound-for-pound great Renan Barao in the main event of UFC 173. Coming in at a 7-to-1 underdog, T.J. Dillashaw pulled off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history and became a star in the sport, doing so.
It began with his footwork—allowing him to slip and avoid Barao’s stikes, and vastly improved striking under the tutelage of Bang Ludwig. And it all culminated in the 5th round when a flurry of strikes landed by TJ dropped Barao with his back against the fence. Referee Herb Dean stepped in and called a stop to the fight at 2:22 of the final round. The newly crowned champion ran directly to his coach and both embraced with tears inside the cage.
Becoming the first member of Team Alpha Male to capture a UFC title, T.J. was somewhat speechless when he was asked to put into words what it meant for the camp.
“It’s crazy, I got into the gym looking up to all those guys. They showed me the way, and I’ve been in much of their title fight camps. I don’t know, it’s kind of crazy for me to be to bring home the belt. It’s a great feeling,” Dillashaw said.
Dillashaw landed the 4th most significant strikes in UFC title fight history according to FightMetric.
TJ Dillashaw’s 140 significant strikes landed are the fourth most ever landed in a championship fight. #UFC173
— Michael Carroll (@MJCflipdascript) May 25, 2014
Breaking down the fight technically at the post-fight press conference, Dillashaw explained using angles, switching stances and a lot of movement as the key to defeating Barao tonight.
“The plan was to move my feet a lot, not stand in front of him, use my angles, switch my stances up, and just be the faster athlete tonight. After that it was just kind of flow, I didn’t want to think about what I was going to do,” Dillashaw said. “I let Duane tell me what to do and I just kind of reacted. The plan was to take him down when need be, I just didn’t feel I needed to.”
Moving forward, Dillashaw will continue to train with Team Alpha Male, but plans to cross train with Duane Ludwig stating one of his goals is to achieve his black belt.
“I’m going to continue to train with Team Alpha Male, but I’m going to cross train with Duane. I’ll go out and train with him when I don’t have a camp. I’ll fly him out when I’m in camp. I’m going to continue to work with Duane, he’ll be in my corner. I plan on getting my black belt under the guy, he’s a genius,” said Dillashaw. “I think it’s going to be the best of both worlds.”—”I gotta stay with Team Alpha Male, they got me where I’m at.”
A 33-fight unbeaten streak did not put fear into TJ Dillashaw, he came into the fight with 100% confidence. That confidence only further ensued when he looked into the eyes of Barao coming out for round 2—following a huge right hand knockdown in the first, and Dillashaw just knew he had it.
“You can’t go into a competition scared, if you are you’re not going to be to your fullest. I went in there with 100% belief even though I knew how great the champion was, I just had to believe in myself.”
“Coming out in the 2nd, I looked in his eyes and I could tell that I maybe had him broke. Especially after the 2nd round, I just knew I had it. I felt awesome in that round. I could see it in his eyes,” Dillashaw said.
The two options for T.J. Dillashaw’s next opponent and first title defense boils down to a couple of rematches for the new champ, in either Raphael Assuncao or Renan Barao.
“It’d be nice to get that win back that I thought I had, so yeah it’d be awesome to get it,” Dillshaw said of a potential rematch with Assuncao.
But ultimately, Dillashaw has no preference on who his next opponent will be, saying “Bossman tells me what to do I’m there. I’m just excited to be in this situation.”
Dillashaw also ruling out a fight with teammate and top bantamweight, Urijah Faber.
“I don’t plan on fighting Urijah, he’s the one that got me into this sport,” Dillashaw said.”It’d be like fighting your best friend. I wouldn’t like to fight the guy obviously.”
While UFC president Dana White did not commit to a specific opponent next for T.J., he did say that a rematch with Renan Barao ‘wouldn’t be insane’.