Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images Social media has been a platform that has done a lot to propel mixed martial arts forward into the mainstream psyche over the past decade. The sport was built around the Internet, with file sharers and tape traders working together on forums to share their love of MMA. It only made sense that these same people would take to social media to continue their undying support for a phenomenon that continues to become one of the most intriguing new sports to pierce popular culture in some time.
But for all social media has done to help the sport, it also serves as its biggest critic. When a fight card is perceived as good or of a high quality, fans and media will rally to help the card do well. When a fight card is perceived as poor or of a low quality, they’ll tear it down. Unfortunately, the latter has taken place with UFC 177. For what UFC 177 lacks in star power, it makes up for in competitive bouts. From top to bottom, the card is filled with intriguing bouts that have presented odds makers with more than a few headaches over the last few months.
Up until Friday, hours before the weigh-ins were scheduled to take place, the main event was supposed to be a rematch for the bantamweight championship between T.J. Dillashaw and former champion Renan Barao. Due to medical reasons, suspected to have to do with weight cutting, Barao is out and undercard fighter Joe Soto is stepping in on one days notice. If there’s ever been a true underdog story in UFC history, this is it. A former champion in Bellator and Tachi Palace Fighting, Soto has been fighting since 2006.
He was scheduled to make his UFC debut on the undercard of UFC 177 against Anthony Birchak. Instead, he’ll be in what is unquestionably the biggest bout of his career as he steps in against Dillashaw. Soto has knockout power and a proven track record of tricky submission victories. His most prominent wins have come against WEC veteran Chad George and current UFC flyweight standout Wilson Reis. In his most recent bout, he defeated highly touted prospect Terrior Ware.
With six wins in a row, the last one coming earlier in August, Soto should have confidence heading into this bout. This isn’t the fight expected or asked for, but it’s the fight we’re getting. Every champion gets curveballs thrown their way, the great ones find a way to hit it out of the park. There’s no mistaking that Dillashaw enters the cage a heavy favorite. This is Soto’s Hail Mary attempt at becoming a star. Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images The co-main event features two fighters who are looking to make their presence known in the UFC’s loaded lightweight division.
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