According to an Aug. 29 report from Sherdog, former Bellator champ, Joe Soto, has stepped in on short notice to fight TJ Dillashaw for the UFC’s bantamweight title at UFC 177 in Sacramento, Calif. Soto, 27, replaces former UFC champ, Renan Barao, who felt ill while cutting weight for the title bout. Barao apparently got down to 138, but felt light-headed and doctors advised him to not continue to try to get down to 135 pounds.
With Dillashaw’s first UFC title defense official thanks to Soto (15-2) signing his name on the dotted line, UFC 177 is good to go for Aug. 30 at the Sleep Train Arena in California. Soto, who was ranked higher than Dillashaw as recent as July of 2012, is riding a six-fight win streak. Dillashaw hasn’t lost since last year, and he’s riding a two-fight win streak.
The original booking of Barao against Dillashaw was questionable, so Soto’s addition may be a blessing in disguise. Dillashaw absolutely smoked Barao the first time he faced him, so most fans wanted to see the California superstar take on someone else anyways. Now he’ll have that opportunity. The UFC says when Barao comes back, he won’t get a title shot. Barao will need to work his way back up the ladder.
The addition of Soto to the title fight against Dillashaw makes UFC 177 one of the most intriguing pay-per-views in promotion history. It makes for a great storyline, as its a most unlikely underdog taking on a world champion. Most MMA fans should be able to relate to that story. Soto has never before competed inside the UFC cage, and he’s relatively unknown to most MMA fans. However, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime by taking on Dillashaw for the bantamweight strap.
If Soto reigns supreme, it would easily be the biggest UFC upset of all-time, even crazier than Matt Serra’s unlikely victory over Georges St-Pierre a few years back. Soto’s shocking promotion to a title shot is like a real-life Rocky story, which makes UFC 177 incredibly appealing. Everyone loves a good underdog story, and that’s exactly what you get with Soto vs. Dillashaw.
UFC 177 is perhaps the most stacked pay-per-view card of the Zuffa era. Since Zuffa took over the UFC in 2001, there have been many high-quality pay-per-views. Not many stack up to UFC 177. Besides Dillashaw against Soto, the event features an intriguing scrap between Shayna Baszler and Bethe Correia, plus a fight pitting Danny Castillo against Tony Ferguson.