It’s the UFC 177 title fight that nobody expected, and put together in less than an hour. T.J. Dillashaw (10-2) makes the first defense of his UFC Bantamweight title against late–emphasis on late–replacement, Joe Soto (15-2).
In Joe Soto, T.J. Dillashaw faces a one-time training partner and someone he knows well both in and out of the cage. Dillashaw showcased terrific striking under the guidance of coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig in his title win over Barao. Dillashaw had just 24 hours to come up with a new gameplan for his replacement opponent, but not being ‘a diva champion’ Dillashaw willing took the fight in his hometown of Sacramento, for the fans.
Soto stepped in just one hour before the weigh-ins as Dillashaw’s original opponent, Renan Barao fainted due to a tough weight cut and was forced to pull out of the main event. The former Bellator featherweight champion and Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight champion, Soto makes his debut and is in a position to shock the world and become UFC champion.
T.J. Dillashaw closed as a 11-to-1 favourite over 9-to-1 underdog Joe Soto.
Joe Soto prepared for a 3-round fight, but was able to take the champion into the fifth and final round. But T.J. Dillashaw continues to show his vastly improved striking, getting another fifth round finish to defend his UFC bantamweight title for the first time.
Chants of “T.J.” throughout the arena to begin the fight. Dillashaw going into the range of Soto to throw an overhand right, blocked. Dillashaw’s leg kick sweeps Soto, but the challenge is back up quickly. Soto goes for the single leg attempt, defended by T.J., who spins and takes the back of Soto with a body triangle. Soto escapes and eats a few strikes on the way back up.
Soto completely defensive in the stand up against T.J., who is landing one shot at a time, and using his footwork to keep Soto guessing. Soto continues to stay on the outside circling, Dillashaw’s footwork on full display–in and out landing one strike at a time. Soto swinging and missing, as T.J. throws feints, a tie up allows T.J. to land an uppercut. Biggest strike landed by Soto is a right hand followed by a leg kick to end the first.
Soto comes out aggressive in round 2, landing a couple of right hands on the chin of Dillashaw. Soto really opening up, shifting gears in round 2, starting to back up the champion. T.J. lands an uppercut flush and follows up with a couple of straight punches. Dillashaw lands a knee to the head with the thai clinch. Dillashaw adjusting to Soto’s aggressiveness, now timing him with his left hand.
Dillashaw continues to touch up Soto, not throwing with all his power, but landing at a high volume. Soto trying to find a home with that right haymaker, but Dillashaw telegraphs him and counters with a combination. Much better second round from the challenger, but Dillashaw’s volume earns him the round.
Dillashaw stalking Soto to start the round, pushing forward, landing body kicks. Starting to really piece together combinations is the champion, lefts and rights connecting on Soto. Dillashaw digs into the body of Soto, followed by a body kick. Soto attempts a single leg takedown, but easily stuffed by Dillashaw. Both fighters exchange in the pocket, with T.J. getting the better, he lands the first takedown of the fight.
Soto scrambles back up to his feet. Dillashaw lands a superman jab, and continues to land beautiful combinations, giving Soto little room to breathe. Never letting up is T.J. Dillashaw, backing Soto up with his strikes. But Dillashaw has two small cuts under his right eye.
Soto now back on the offensive, as T.J. Dillashaw circles away. The volume of output continues to be high from the champion, while the challenge is landing short jabs. More combinations from Dillashaw, as Soto covers up. Pace slowed midway through the round. Soto throwing wiht much more power, but Dillashaw making him miss. T.J. ducks under one of Soto’s hooks and lands a double leg takedown.
Dillashaw works for a minute on top before attempting a rear naked choke, easily shrugged off by Soto. Round ends on the feet.
Joe Soto shoots for a takedown far away, easily defended by Dillashaw. T.J. opens up with a head kick, followed by left and rights as Soto covered up. Soto still marching forward but throwing very little strikes, unable to catch the quicker Dillashaw. T.J. Dillashaw gets the finish in the 5th round, setting up and landing a right head kick that rocked Joe Soto, a couple of left hands followed and the fight was over.
T.J. Dillashaw retains the UFC Bantamweight Championship with a 5th round knockout over Joe Soto.
“Man it’s been crazy. an hour before making weight, you get the call. Especially switching to a tough opponent like Joe Soto. But there’s no way I wasn’t going to put on a show and save the night,” the victorious Dillashaw said.
“I knew he was going to be a bit better with his wrestling, so i needed to be more hesitant with my stand up.”
When asked for who T.J. Dillashaw would like to defend his title against next, he doesn’t have a particular name in mind.
“I’m not really sure, my mind was on Renan Barao for the last few months. But I’m putting anybody they put in front of my and I’m going to beat them.”
The challenger was showered with “Soto” chants by the crowd in Sacramento, giving him credit for putting up a competitive fight.
“It was a dream come true. It was an honor,” Soto said of fighting for the title. “I’ve always wanted to be in the UFC.”—“I didn’t want to die knowing I didn’t fight in the UFC. My dream came true.”
Full UFC 177 Results
Main card (10 P.M. EST, PPV)
- UFC Bantamweight Title: T.J. Dillashaw def. Joe Soto via Knockout (head kick)–Round 5, 2:20
- Tony Ferguson def. Danny Castillo via Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Bethe Correia def. Shayna Baszler TKO (punches)–Round 2, 1:56
- Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Ramsey Nijem via TKO (punch)–Round 2, 1:53
- Yancy Medeiros def. Damon Jackson via Submission (reverse guillotine choke)–Round 2, 1:54
Preliminary Card (8 P.M. EST, FOX Sports 1)
- Derek Brunson def. Lorenz Larkin via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Anthony Hamilton def. Ruan Potts via TKO (body punches)–Round 2, 4:17
- Chris Wade def. Cain Carrizosa via Submission (guillotine choke)–Round 1, 1:12