T.J Dillashaw made sure Joe Soto wouldn’t shock the world.

Fighting in front of his hometown crowd, UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw put on a masterful performance in the main event of UFC 177 at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California.

It was not the one sided bout that everybody expected, but Dillashaw was dominant in his first title defense. Joe Soto looked a little overwhelmed to start the fight, but got more comfortable in the Octagon after round one.

After failing to take down Dillashaw in the initial stanza, Soto settled for the stand up game began to hit his stride by peppering the champion’s face with jabs and right hands.He stuck out his tongue at one point in the second round to taunt Dillashaw and was able to open multiple cuts on Dillashaw’s face.

But the bigger Dillashaw proved too much for the gritty Soto, and began to dominate in round 3 as he bloodied the challenger’s nose badly. Pace and conditioning was starting to become a problem for Soto late in the fight as he failed to keep up with the busier and elusive Dillashaw.

Then in the final round, Dillashaw caught a backing up Soto with a right high kick that landed on the temple. That wobbled Soto to the ground where Dillashaw finished him with a barrage of punches that forced referee Big John McCarthy to halt the bout at the 2:20 mark of the final round.

Fight Metric stats showed that the champion outlanded his challenger 156-63 and scored two take downs on Soto.

Dillashaw won by 5th round TKO for the consecutive bout. The champion improved his record to 12-2 with 4 KOs and 3 submissions. Soto fell to 15-3 with 5 KOs and 8 submissions.

Doing it for Sacramento

It was a tough call, but I wanted to do it for Sacramento” said Dillashaw, who prepared for months to fight former champion Renan Barao in a rematch of their UFC 173 title bout last May. But Barao pulled out from the bout on the day of the weigh-in after he reportedly hit his head in his bathtub after fainting due to weight reduction issues. The UFC scrambled to find an opponent to save the event, and was forced to promote the unheralded Soto from the preliminaries to the main event.

Unranked, But Quality Foe

Although unranked by the UFC, Soto was a quality foe. He was a former collegiate wrestler who won the 145 pound belt at Bellator in 2009 and the Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight title last February. He was on a six fight winning streak, with four wins by submission and one by knockout.

Soto was originally scheduled to fight Anthony Birchak in the preliminary bouts, but he agreed to take on Dillashaw on a 24 hour notice in his UFC debut. He trained for a three round bout, but fighting Dillashaw for the UFC title was an opportunity he never imagined and one he could not refuse.

“It was a dream come true, an honor the UFC asked me to fight for the title.” said Soto after the bout. ” I’ve always wanted to be here since I was a kid. I didn’t want to die knowing I didn’t fight in the UFC.”

Soto may have lost, but he proved that he belongs to the UFC.

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