According to an Aug. 29 report from ESPN, TJ Dillashaw will be putting his UFC bantamweight strap on the line against former Bellator MMA star, Joe Soto, in the main event of UFC 177. Dillashaw, 28, is reportedly angry at the situation, because he had been training for over a month to fight Brazilian legend Renan Barao. Since Dillashaw is a company man, he is moving forward with Soto as a replacement opponent. However, he’s not thrilled about it.
Soto is Dillashaw’s former training partner, so he’s not too happy about having to fight him. Since UFC 177 will be Dillashaw’s first title defense for the promotion, he would have liked for things to go down a bit smoother. A title fight at UFC 177 is obviously a golden opportunity for Soto, but it’s equally as important for Dillashaw.
The Team Alpha Male standout has a chance to make a real splash at UFC 177, just a few months after he became a household name with his shocking title win over Barao at UFC 173. Is this a golden opportunity for Dillashaw? Absolutely. Hardcore UFC fans already know about him, but UFC 177 is his chance to make some noise with the casual fan base.
Since he comes in to UFC 177 as a heavy favorite, anything other than a highlight-reel knockout victory would be viewed as a disappointment. The UFC 177 main event might be a bit of a squash match, so Dillashaw has a real chance to earn that elusive ref stoppage. What do we know about this fight? Judging by the stats, the main event of UFC 177 shouldn’t be as one-sided as some make it out to be.
Soto, who was won six fights in a row, was ranked higher than Dillashaw just two years ago. Dillashaw has already lost twice under the UFC banner, so it’s not like he has been unstoppable. Anything can happen in the UFC cage. It’s going to come down to who has the better night. UFC 177 is set for Aug. 30 in Sacramento, Calif. Whoever wins the tilt between Dillashaw and Soto will walk away as new UFC bantamweight champ, but Barao is not slated to receive a title shot when he comes back.
In all likelihood, the winner of Bryan Caraway’s upcoming tilt with Raphael Assunção will earn a UFC title shot against the winner of Dillashaw’s scrap with Soto. Barao will need to climb his way back up the bantamweight ladder, perhaps against the loser of Soto vs. Dillashaw. Also on the UFC 177 main card, Shayna Baszler battles Bethe Correia in women’s bantamweight action.