Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images Despite the odds being stacked against it, UFC 177 turned out to be a pretty decent night of fights. The day before the hotly anticipated rematch between Renan Barao and T.J. Dillashaw, Barao was forced to pull out of the bout due to an injury sustained from a fall, andfor the second time in as many UFC pay-per-views, the main event was in jeopardy. I want to note here just how much I dislike the switching of a fighter’s opponent the night before a fight.
It was not fair on T.J. Dillashaw to expect him to take on a completely different but still notably dangerous opponent at the last minute, and it was not fair on Joe Soto to ask him to step into a five round fight when he had trained for a three round fight—against the best bantamweight in the world no less. They should have both said no—certainly a coach does not want his fighter’s courage in heat-of-the-moment negotiations to put his career path in jeopardy—but luckily for us, Soto and Dillashaw agreed to fight, and the scrap that they put on saved the event.
Dillashaw Defends the Crown T.J. Dillashaw was the heavy favourite, for obvious reasons, but it is worth noting that a last minute change of opponents, especially to a relatively unknown one, is always disadvantageous for the champion. There is a reason that months are spent working towards fights at the highest level, and it’s not because it takes that long to build cardio or get the right lines in a fighter’s six pack for the bout. At this level of the game, tape is studied, sparring is specific, and gameplans are tailored to the habits of the scheduled opponent.
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