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  • TJ Dillashaw on UFC 173 Win, Cruz, Faber and Return to the Octagon

    Last week, I followed TJ Dillashaw as he prepared for his UFC 173 bout against Renan Barao. He was one of the biggest underdogs ever to participate in a championship bout, and few gave him a chance of making it out of the first round, much less pulling off the historic upset.

    In my time spent with Dillashaw, I saw a man completely unfazed by the task ahead of him, as though he had no idea what the fans and oddsmakers were saying.

    He was relaxed, loose and absolutely confident that he’d be taking the title back to Sacramento. He spoke of all the things he’d need to get used to as bantamweight champion, such as spending fight weeks in the nicest hotel suites available instead of standard rooms.

    Where did his confidence come from? How was he able to overlook the long odds he faced?

    “Duane (Ludwig) always said he had the utmost confidence in me beating Barao. He isn’t going to blow smoke up my butt when he tells me what he believes. The way he went about it made me super confident getting in there,” Dillashaw says. “And then the rest of my team, Urijah, Joseph, Chad, they all tell me how good I am. Urijah really believed that I could beat Barao.



    Dillashaw was on to something. He went in the Octagon and beat Barao from pillar to post before finishing him in the fifth round to become the new bantamweight champion.

    He knocked Barao down in the first round, then used the same tactics to befuddle the champion and keep him off balance in the second. He knew then that he had a chance to win. After a dominant third, he realized he’d won the first three rounds going away. Barao had nothing to offer him.

    “After that, I was like ‘I’ve got this guy’s number. I can put it on him,’ Dillashaw says. “After the third, I knew I had him.”

    The historic underdog hadn’t just defied the odds; he’d trampled all over them and then kicked them out the door. He’d dominated one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and turned in one of the single best performances in UFC history.
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