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Who wins the T.J. Dillashaw-Renan Barao rematch at UFC on Fox 16, and how?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
T.J. Dillashaw, as the rightful favorite after what was the largest upset (according to the sports books) in UFC history, defeats Renan Barao in the rematch. Dillashaw vs. Barao 1 and Jones vs. Gustafsson had me on the edge of my seat more than any other fights in recent memory. After a shocking knockdown in the first round, Dillashaw never took his foot of the gas, and proved the first round wasn't a fluke when he scored the TKO victory in the fifth.
I see this rematch ending the same way: Dillashaw by fifth round TKO. Dillashaw displayed some of the best footwork and technical striking I had seen in recent memory in his demolition of the former champ. Before Dillashaw, Barao had been undefeated in 33 straight fights (32-0 with one No Contest), a streak spanning some nine years. He had shown no weaknesses in his game at all, and was coming off a dominating stretch of three straight finishes (two by TKO, one by submission). Barao had shown an ability to dominate both in striking and in submissions, and there was a huge reason he was a 7 to 1 favorite.
For all Barao's credentials and fighting prowess, Dillashaw just made him look silly. Barao was never in the fight after that first round knockdown. Whether it was due to the shock of being put on the mat or the overwhelming pressure Dillashaw applied, the end result was he got laid out with a head kick in the fifth round before Herb Dean had to step in to stop the onslaught of punches he was getting hit with.
Barao is a huge bantamweight, who passed out trying to cut pounds for a previously scheduled rematch against the champ. Were it not for teammate Jose Aldo holding the featherweight title, Barao probably would have already moved up a division to spare putting his body through dehydration hell. While size is normally an advantage, it worked against him in the first fight as Dillashaw is extremely quick and fast. Dillashaw made a point in that fight to be exactly where Barao wasn't expecting him to be. He utilized speed, technique, and mixed up his striking beautifully. The same is going to happen this time, and hopefully Dominick Cruz can get healthy enough to take on Dillashaw in what would be one of the most anticipated bantamweight fights in a long time.
DAN MOORE, MMATORCH UK COLUMNIST
I was at the UFC 173 event in Las Vegas last May. I was one of thousands in attendance who literally sat stunned at just how good Dillashaw was. At the time Barao was considered the bantamweight version of Jose Aldo, maybe even potentially better. He was beating everybody and had just steamrolled through Urijah Faber a few months earlier. Hardly anyone gave Dillashaw a chance on the night, but his performance was absolutely perfect.
I'm not convinced Dillashaw can do the same again, but I also can't back Barao at this moment in time. Both have only had one fight since their first match-up, and Barao beating Mitch Gagnon wasn’t enough to convince me he now knows how to beat the champion. Dillashaw utterly dominated him from start to finish, so I have to pick the champion to win again. I'm not entirely sure how he does it, but a unanimous decision is a fairly safe bet.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I have to go with Dillashaw. I can't pick against him. I haven't seen him slipping or Barao raising his game since they fought last. Based off of their previous fight, I have to go with Dillashaw. Barao looked fine in his only fight since losing to Dillashaw, a submission victory over Mitch Gagnon, but there's no way I can assume that he's gotten better to a point where I can pick him to beat Dillashaw. Barao got trucked by Dillashaw and nothing that's happened since makes me think that this time will be much different.
I want to see this fight, no doubt, but I don't think the outcome will be much different. This is a huge fight between great fighters, but I expect a similar outcome. I think Dillashaw wins by decision, or possibly a fourth round TKO. I'm expecting Barao to be better in this fight, though, so I'll go with a close decision win for Dillashaw.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I gotta go with Dillashaw all the way. When he beat Barao last May, he not only took the title from him but shattered his confidence as well. Barao looked like a shell of himself when he fought Mitch Gagnon in December, and did nothing to inspire any confidence in me that he will ever be the same fighter that he previously was and it isn't too hard to see why. Barao had won 34 fights in a row and fought like a dude who couldn't be touched. Dillashaw shattered that myth in the first round and Barao knows now that he is no longer invincible and has fought like that. The reckless abandon that Barao fought with is what made him such a great champion and now it is gone. Thus Dillashaw will hold onto his belt in a comfortable judges decision.
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Either T.J. Dillashaw figured out Renan Barao, or he's just so naturally superior to Barao that there ain't nothing Barao can do to beat Dillashaw, all things being equal. Barao had best hope that T.J. just cracked the code, because then him beating Dillashaw in the rematch is a mental exercise with a possible solution as opposed to an exercise in physical futility. And I don't know about you, but while Renan Barao might be a sharp cat and all, he sure as hell is no John Nash (neither the Russell Crowe version nor the Bloody Elbow version). T.J. wins a lopsided decision, and we can all get on to praying that Dominick Cruz returns soon.
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