True to his word during the UFC 169 post fight press conference, Renan Barao returns to the Octagon on May 24 to defend his UFC Bantamweight title for the second time against TJ Dillashaw. Barao was expected to move up in weight after his Nova Uniao teammate and UFC featherweight king Jose Aldo is almost certain to go up to the 155 lbs to challenge UFC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.  But Barao proudly said that he had just won the bantamweight title and that he still has a lot of work to do in the divison. That work starts with TJ Dillashaw on May 24.

The Viper

Tyler Jeffrey “TJ” Dillashaw was a finalist in TUF 14: Team Bisping vs Team Miller. He made his UFC debut on December 2011 at the TUF finale where h lost to John Dodson via first round knockout (punches). After winning four straight fights since the loss, Dillashaw faced #3 ranked bantamweight Raphael Assuncao in October 2013.

Dillashaw lost via split decision in a closely contested match where Dillashaw and Assuncao earned Fight of the Night honors for their classic duel. Dillashaw rebounded last March by defeating #7 bantamweight Mike Eaton via unanimous decision.

TJ Dillashaw was originally slated to face Takeya Mizugaki in the same UFC 173 card while Barao was expected to face Dillashaw’s conqueror Assuncao. But lingering injuries have forced Assuncao out of the  fight, and Dillashaw was more than willing to step in.

One of TJ’s biggest motivations for the fight would be trying to get one back for Team Alpha Male. Barao defeated Team Alpha Male leader Urijah Faber last February in UFC 169. But the first round stoppage of Faber was marred by a possible premature stoppage by referee Herb Dean. But instead of complaining, Faber threw in the name of Dillashaw as the next challenger to Barao’s throne. Team Alpha Male got their wish, but it could be a death wish for TJ Dillashaw.

Be Careful of What You Wish For

Dillashaw is no doubt a contender and an excellent fighter. But Barao is in another world right now. The Brazilian has gone undefeated in nine straight years and holds one of the longest winning streaks in MMA history. Barao has been unbeaten in his last 33 fights( 32 wins and 1 no-contest) and doesn’t look to be beatable right now. He is currently ranked as the 3rd best Pound for Pound fighter in the UFC and at age 27, sky is the limit for this talented Brazilian BJJ specialist.

Barao became the 100th martial artist to receive his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blackbelt from Andre Pederneiras in 2011. He is the training partner of UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo at Team Nova Uniao. Since his arrival in the UFC, Barao has been an immaculate 7-0 with two submissions and two knockouts. So if DIllashaw thinks that revenge is a good storyline for this bout, he may have too much to handle in Renan Barao.

Event Saver

Renan Barao has been credited for saving UFC 173 after the original main event of Weidman vs Machida was scrapped after the champion suffered a knee injury while training. Barao gladly agreed to step in to fight in the co-main event of UFC 173. But Barao had his share of controversies lately. He openly complained that Urijah Faber made more money than him and that he is planning to have his contract “improved” by the UFC. In his statement, Barao used his event-saving move as leverage.

Shocking the World?

With his  incredible winning streak, Barao may be looking past Dillashaw when he discussed about the possibility of fighting Marlon Moraes, his former teammate and the new WSOF bantamweigght champion. Moraes isn’t under contract by the UFC,  but he is a potential big fight for Barao in the future.

On the other hand, TJ Dillashaw claims that Barao’s kryptonite is his cardio. Barao is big and huge for the bantanweight division but his explosiveness could also be his downfall. Although Barao is a well-rounded fighter, his cardio has been a suspect. And that’s how Dillashaw plans to “shock the world”.

He believes that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain in fighting Renan Barao. Dillashaw thinks that Barao’s post fight dance celebrations are “horrible” and that it’s disgusting dancing. He plans to show him some real dance moves when he wins. But that remains to be seen.

Barao’s hip swings of death have yet to be stopped in the last 33 fights.

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