The Severe Diagnosis: UFC on FOX – Dillashaw vs. Barao

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The United Centre in Chicago, Illinois was the host venue for this week’s main MMA action as the UFC had their sixteenth broadcast on American network Fox.

Tremendous TJ

In the headlining spot the UFC bantamweight championship was up for grabs as title holder TJ Dillashaw took on the man he beat for the strap, Renan Barao. Just like the first fight it was a loose, languid, flowing TJ Dillashaw from the very start while Barao changed up his game as he stood far out of distance and jumped in with power shots. Barao had a little bit of success early but Dillashaw was the one who did the first big damage as he stunned Barao with three right hands inside the opening set of exchanges. Barao immediately closed the distance and clinched against the fence but it was Dillashaw who turned the position and landed with some nice knees to the body which Barao answered back identically. As they broke, Barao was successful with a short right hand but TJ countered with a lovely combination that backed him up. As the second half of the round came, TJ had even more success as he wobbled Barao out of the southpaw stance (which he used constantly throughout the period) and although Barao hurt him with a few late shots, the first five minutes were certainly Dillashaw’s.

Even more than the first round, Dillashaw’s movement was on point early in the second as he bamboozled Barao with shots from his hip before pushing him against the cage to wear him down. Barao, though, defended well and stopped the takedown before catching Dillashaw with a hard right hand and a takedown of his own. Dillashaw popped back up without hesitation, though, and again shoved the Brazilian to the cage where he hurt him with some dirty boxing. Barao managed to push the fight back out to the middle of the cage but it did nothing more than give TJ an opportunity to land the straight left down the pipe which he used so often in the first fight.

Barao looked visibly fatigued coming out for the third and ate a murder of Dillashaw combinations straight from the off. A Dillashaw head kick made contact soon after that and when Barao tried for the takedown, Dillashaw briefly took his back before deciding to stand up. By now, Barao had slowed to a snail’s pace as Dillashaw circled and struck before again taking the Brazilian to the cage for a prolonged period of draining clinch work. In the clinch Dillashaw hit “The Baron” with a couple of body shots before a guillotine try got them back out to open water for the last few seconds of the round where Dillashaw poured on the pressure and, after a stiff left hand, looked to have Barao on the edge as the bell went.

As they touched gloves to start the fourth the look in both men’s eyes showed exactly what was about to happen as a fresh Dillashaw met Barao on his last legs. Without even being touched, an out-on-his-feet Barao backed to the fence and absorbed yet another powerful straight left hand from the champion. This time, though, he had nothing left to give and as Dillashaw rained down 20+ shots, the cage was the only thing holding Barao on his feet when Herb Dean stepped in and, later than he probably should have, stopped the fight to give Dillashaw his second title defence.

After such a dominant win in the first fight, many thought it would be impossible for Dillashaw to improve on that display but that’s exactly what he did. Now, a recuperating Dominick Cruz seems the logical next opponent for the ever improving champ.

Tenacious Tate

If that wasn’t enough, the co-main event went down between two of the best female bantamweights in the world as Miesha Tate took on Jessica Eye in an excellent fight over three rounds. Although Tate came out in her usual, forward-moving style it was Eye who had the better of the opening exchanges as she dodged out of the way of Tate’s attacks and countered well off of both hands. A left-right combination inside of ninety seconds had Tate backing up while another big right hand had her attacking for takedowns. Eye stopped them all, though, and continued to piece up Tate on the feet before, out of nowhere, Tate landed an exocet of a right hand and dropped Eye to the ground before putting on a whole load of damage on top until the end of the round.

Eye looked to be recovered as she came out for the second but another Tate right hand, followed by a body kick had the former Strikeforce champion on the front foot. To her credit, Eye was able to get back into it and put her jab constantly on the chin of Tate but it was another on-the-money right hand from Tate which changed the fight again. At first, Eye stayed standing but as she wobbled backwards the tremors of the shot put her on her back as Tate dived down and attacked. Eye briefly threatened with a triangle but it was a Tate guillotine attempt late in the round which came closest to finishing the fight.

With Tate likely up two rounds it was Eye who needed to up the output in the third but Tate wasn’t for letting up as she immediately took the centre of the Octagon and went to work again – landing with a pair of nice right hands. As the round progressed it was clearly less action-packed than the previous two but a couple of Eye headkicks might have had her ahead. That was until Tate took it to the floor with a slick takedown and scrambled to the back of Eye with just over a minute left on the clock. And although Tate seemed to be doing plenty of work, referee Yves Lavigne stood them up to play out a few uneventful last seconds on the feet.

In the end, the decision wasn’t a difficult one to make as Miesha Tate took it unanimously on all three judge’s cards in what might just be the win to set up another fight with her old rival Ronda Rousey.

Impressive undercard

Before that, arguably the fight of the night went down as Paul Felder and Edson Barboza stood toe-to-toe for fifteen minutes of unbelievable striking action. Head kicks, spinning wheel kicks, leg kicks, spinning back fists and more were traded before Barboza took a unanimous decision. Then, in the main card opener, American veteran Joe Lauzon put on a dominant display over his Japanese counterpart Takenori Gomi as he got the takedown early before taking the back and getting an unusual walkway stoppage after less than three minutes on the clock.

In the preliminary section of the card, light heavyweights Tom Lawlor and Gian Villante went punch for punch early until Lawlor knocked the New Yorker out cold early in the third with a right hook out of nowhere. Before that, Jim Miller won over three rounds against Danny Castillo, and Ben Saunders took a close decision over Kenny Robertson in a back-and-forth, exciting fight while the prelims were opened up with the best win of Bryan Caraway’s career as he outpointed Eddie Wineland over three relatively enjoyable rounds of striking.

Check out the full results below:

T.J. Dillashaw def. Renan Barao via TKO – Round 4, 0:35
Jessica Eye vs. Miesha Tate via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Edson Barboza def. Paul Felder via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Joe Lauzon def. Takanori Gomi via TKO – Round 1, 2:37

Tom Lawlor def. Gian Villante via knockout – Round 2, 0:27
Jim Miller def. Danny Castillo via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Ben Saunders def. Kenny Robertson via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Bryan Caraway def. Eddie Wineland via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

James Krause def. Daron Cruickshank via submission (rear naked choke) – Round 1, 1:27
Andrew Holbrook def. Ramsey Nijem via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Elizabeth Phillips def. Jessamyn Duke via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Zak Cummings def. Dominique Steele via TKO – Round 1, 0:43

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma