LAS VEGAS - T.J. Dillashaw, who fights out of Sacramento with Team Alpha Male, shocked the mix martial arts world when he not only beat, but dominated defending champion Renan Barao to win the UFC bantamweight title by a fifth-round TKO.
"I don't even know if I can soak it up now, it is an amazing feeling and it is what I dreamed about," Dillashaw told News10.
The Angels Camp native (11-2) came into the fight as a serious 8.5 to 1 underdog to the Brazilian (34-2-1) who was on a 22 fight win streak, but Dillashaw kept the former champion confused for the entire bout with his movement and relentless pace pulling off one of the biggest upsets in UFC history.
News10's Ryan Yamamoto speaks with new UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, moments after his historic upset victory over Renan Barao at UFC 173 in Las Vegas. News10/KXTV
"I knew I couldn't go in there scared, I had to believe in my skills and be a confident man," said Dillashaw. "Everyone goes in there feeling a little beaten by his reputation, and now his great story with all those wins it is over. I proved that he can be beaten."
Dillashaw made a statement early in the fight when he landed a straight right that dropped Barao to the canvas and nearly submitted him in the first round.
Throughout the rest of the fight, Dillashaw continued to pepper Barao with a variety of punches and kicks. He used his footwork by switching stances to keep his opponent off-guard and in the final round Dillashaw dropped Barao again and jumped on his opponent with ground and pound until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.
Barao was transported to a Las Vegas area hospital following the fight.
For Team Alpha Male, Dillashaw becomes the first fighter to win the elusive UFC title and bring the belt back to the Capitol City after six unsuccessful attempts. Urijah Faber lost to Dominick Cruz and Barao twice. Joseph Benavidez fell twice to UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. And Chad Mendes lost to UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. They will meet again on Aug. 2 in UFC 176 in Los Angeles.
"I can't believe it, they were all my idols when I got into the gym and got my butt kick when I first got it in there, and went through their title fights," Dillashaw said. "And it is a crazy feeling to be the first one to bring this sucker home. It means everything."
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