By AMBER PAPPE
For The Union Democrat
ATLANTA — UFC bantamweight T.J. Dillashaw kicked off the new year with a huge unanimous win over Mike Easton at UFC Fight Night 35 Wednesday night at Gwinnett Center.
The 27-year-old mixed martial artist, a member of Team Alpha Male, dominated Easton with a complete game, landing 117 strikes to Easton’s 46 and nailing two takedowns to win all three rounds 30-27.
“I came in with respect for Mike; he’s tough. I expected it would be a tough fight, and I knew it would go the full three rounds,” Dillashaw said. “He’s ranked in the Top 10 for a reason, but I was the better athlete tonight.”
Round 1 opened with both fighters feeling each other out and finding their range. Midway through the first, Dillashaw took over, dictating the pace and out striking the jiu jitsu black belt.
Dillashaw continued to push the action in the second frame, aggressively moving forward, mixing up strikes, and landing a brutal head kick that nearly put Easton away. A former Division 1 collegiate wrestler, Dillashaw also dominated on the ground.
Down two rounds, Easton displayed heart in Round 3, but not enough hunger and was no match for Dillashaw, who stayed focused, stuck to the “Bang” plan and performed with perfection.
“It felt great to get the win and show all my Muay Thai skills that coach Duane Ludwig has taught me,” said Dillashaw, an Angels Camp native. “I would have liked to get the finish, but I was dominating from start to finish so I was never worried.”
Easton, a member of Team Alliance MMA, has dropped his last three fights; Dillashaw, ranked sixth going into the bout, improves to 10-2 and continues his climb to the top tier of the bantamweight ladder.
UFC president Dana White was full of praise for the rising star.
“I thought Dillashaw put on an absolute clinic tonight,” White said. “Everything you can do, he did—wrestling, good hands to the body and the head, leg kicks. Everything you can possibly do to someone, he did.”