Last minute changes in Sacramento (UFC 177 Review)

ufc_177The UFC had planned one of the biggest rematches of the year to highlight UFC 177 in a night that was supposed to provide redemption or reassurance. TJ Dillashaw was the champion after beating a man nobody thought he could beat in Renan Barao. This was the chance for Barao to get back in the octagon and take the belt back after being handled easily by a fighter that nobody thought even belonged in a title shot. As the fight approached the excitement built to see this rematch that promised to be a great matchup but then everything changed. At the weigh-in the day before the fight it was announced that Barao had dropped out of the fight and would be replaced by Joe Soto. Barao was forced to drop out of the fight after his weight cut went wrong and he was hospitalized after passing out. Put simply Barao tried to cut too much weight in too short of a time and put his own body in danger. With the change in the fight the UFC 177 card was thrown into a tailspin with only one day to prepare for a new fighter. In one corner would still be the champion TJ Dillashaw but now he was set to take on a relative unknown in the UFC in Joe Soto. That was understandable as Soto had never fought in the UFC before spending his most recent time in Tachi PF. He was scheduled to face Anthony Birchak in the undercard of UFC 177 in his UFC debut. There is no doubt that if Soto had put together a few wins after his debut he would be headed to the title shot. He came into the UFC on a 6 fight win streak and a total record of 15-2. He was brought in as another true contender in the division but that was not supposed to happen on his first night in the promotion and especially not with just under 24 hour notice. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for Soto who never expected to be asked to fight for the title in his debut. Coming into Sacramento Soto was simply looking to make an impression in the undercard fight. After winning so much in other promotions he was ready to take the step to the biggest and best promotion in the world. If he could make an impression early in the night he could likely look forward to another fight that would keep him moving up the rankings to earn a title shot in a few fights if he won impressively. Then as he prepared for that fight the night before the UFC called him and asked him if he wanted Dillashaw and a shot at the UFC Bantamweight title. Already prepared and ready to make weight Soto said yes and took the chance to fight for the title that many believed he may get only after a few fights. It was a decision that could only mean good things for Soto as he earned the respect of the UFC in accepting a fight on such short notice. If he went on to lose who could expect him to win with no notice against the best fighter in the division. If he won the upset would be monumental, even bigger than Dillashaw beating Barao, and he would be immediately launched into the limelight. For Dillashaw it as a change in opponents at the last second and a change in styles. He would no longer have to worry about devastating kicks and stand-up of Barao but now had to concentrate on the BJJ and wrestling of Soto. Meanwhile Soto had to prepare for a very well-balanced fighter that is comfortable everywhere in Dillashaw. The fight was not supposed to be close as everyone expected Dillashaw to dominate a fighter that essentially didn’t belong in the fight. That is not what Soto thought though as he put together a great performance against the champion. Soto began landing big shots against Dillashaw and actually caught him a few times with big right hooks. Dillashaw, however landed more shots throwing out jabs at a rapid pace. The fight stayed standing and Dillashaw could not land everything with great head movement from Soto. As the fight moved on Dillashaw was building a bigger case for the win as the strikes added up but by no means was he running away with the fight easily. Eventually Dillashaw broke through though and in the fifth round unleashed a head kick that staggered Soto and ended the fight. The fight was an impressive one from Joe Soto who showed that he belongs in the UFC staying in the fight with Dillashaw even on 24 hour notice. Meanwhile Dillashaw got the win and remains the champion and will look to a new challengers. With Barao missing weight he will not get the next title fight and with Urijah Faber and Dillashaw refusing to fight teammates the challengers could be Michael McDonald or Raphael Assuncao, who is the last person to beat Dillashaw.

The main card would also feature a matchup between two fighters looking to make an impact in the women’s bantamweight division. It was also a matchup of the old versus the new with an up and coming fighter facing a trailblazer in women’s MMA. Shayna Baszler was one of the first women’s fighters and helped to bring the women’s game into the limelight. For that she got a chance to make an impression during The Ultimate Fighter and got another shot at UFC 177 on the main card. Her opponent was a Brazilian who had made her way quickly up the women’s division in the UFC. Bethe Correia had only fought twice in the UFC but had earned decisions in both of her wins. One of those wins was against Jessamyn Duke, a member of the Four Horsewomen of MMA. That group is led by women’s champion Ronda Rousey and is one of the few women’s training groups in MMA. Another member of that group is Shayna Baszler and Bethe came into UFC 177 looking to take out another member of the group on her way to Rousey. As the fight began it seemed like Correia had bitten off more than she could chew with Baszler dominating. The fight started with the veteran taking control of the fight and taking it where she wanted to. Then the second round started and Correia took over keeping the fight standing and unloading on Baszler. Correia had Baszler pinned against the cage and continued to unload punches forcing the referee to stop the fight with Baszler not fighting back. The loss was a bad one for Baszler but she will likely be back and fighting for her chance to stay in the UFC. Meanwhile Correia continues to move up the rankings and is looking directly at the title that Ronda Rousey holds. She may not get a shot immediately, unless Rousey requests it after Correia called her out, but she will continue to move up in competition with the chance to face a top 5 fighter and earn a title shot.

Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
T.J. Dillashaw and Joe Soto had plenty to deal with for the main event with the last-minute fight change but that didn’t stop Dillashaw from earning a big KO and a Performance of the Night bonus

Performance of the Night
Yancy Medeiros went into UFC 177 to make an impression and he did just that when he earned a submission win over Damon Jackson with a Reverse Guillotine Choke in the second round to earn an extra $50,000 bonus

Fight of the Night
The UFC 177 card was full of finishes but the fight between Carlos Diego Ferreira and Ramsey Nijem was one of the best as both fighters went for the finish but Ferreira got the win in a second round KO and both fighters earned the Fight of the Night


Fight Results

Main Event:
T.J. Dillashaw def. Joe “One Bad Mofo” Soto
(KO; Rd. 5)

Main Card:
Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson def. Danny “Last Call” Castillo
(Split Decision)

Bethe “Pitbull” Correia def. Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler
(TKO; Rd. 2)

Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Ramsey Nijem
(RKO; Rd. 2)

Yancy “The Kid” Medeiros def. Damon “The Leech” Jackson
(Submission; Revers Guillotine Choke, Rd. 2)

Derek Brunson def. Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin
(Unanimous Decision)

Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton def. Ruan “Fangs” Potts
(TKO; Rd. 2)

Chris Wade def. “The Insane” Cain Carrizosa
(Submission; Guillotine Choke, Rd. 1)


Upcoming Events

UFC Fight Night 50: Souza vs. Mousasi II (Friday September 5th; 9:00 pm ET)
Ledyard, Connecticut (Foxwoods Resorts & Casino)
Main Event: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi
Notable: Alistair “The Reem” Overeem vs. Ben Rothwell
Notable: Matt “Meathead” Mitrione vs. Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis

UFC Fight Night 51: Silva vs. Arlovski (Saturday September 13th; 8:00 pm ET)
Brasillia, Brazil (Ginásio Nilson Nelson)
Main Event: Antônio “Bigfoot” Silva vs. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski
Notable: Gleison Tibau vs. Piotr “Płetwal” Hallmann
Notable: Leonardo Santos vs. Efrain “Hecho en Mexico” Escudero

UFC Fight Night 52: Hunt vs. Nelson (Saturday September 20th; 1:30 am ET)
Saitama, Japan (Saitama Super Arena)
Main Event: Mark “Super Samoan” Hunt vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson
Notable: Myles “The Fury” Jury vs. “The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi
Notable: Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama vs. Amir Sadollah

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