UFC bantamweight champion and Angels Camp native TJ Dillashaw will defend his world title next month against No. 1 contender Renan Barao at UFC 177: Dillashaw-Barao 2 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
The Aug. 30 rematch of Dillashaw and Barao will come a little more than three months after the former Bret Harte wrestling standout pummeled Barao and won by technical knockout at UFC 173 in May to claim the world championship. It was the 27-year-old Barao’s first loss in nearly a decade.
“I don’t feel that he really deserved it that much,” Dillashaw said by phone on Wednesday. “I gave him a beating. He should have fought his way back up. I want to prove to everyone that I’m the better fighter and I get to do it in my hometown. That’s awesome. Everyone back home in Angels Camp, Calaveras County and Sacramento can come out.”
In that victory in Las Vegas, the 28-year-old dropped the Brazilian to the floor in the first round with a powerful right before finishing him in the fifth. Dillashaw landed two knockdowns and connected on a total of 169 strikes with 140 of them being significant.
Dillashaw noted that after the second round of the championship bout, he knew he had Barao beat.
“It felt amazing,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘I knew I could beat Renan Barao.’ It went a whole lot smoother than my game plan. This fight, it went perfect. I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
The rematch will mark the first time in Dillashaw’s career that he will have to fight the same person twice.
“It might be a little bit more difficult, but I believe that I’m the better fighter,” Dillashaw said. “It might not go as smooth, but I’m going to go in there with the same mentality like I did the first time. I’m the better fighter. I’m faster and much more athletic.”
The 5-foot-6, 135-pound Dillashaw trains and fights out of Urijah Faber’s Ultimate Fitness in Sacramento and is a member of Team Alpha Male.
In Dillashaw’s last seven UFC fights, he has topped Walel Watson, Vaughan Lee, Issei Tamura, Hugo Viana, Mike Easton and Barao. His lone loss in the Octagon came at the hands of Raphael Assuncao, who won by split decision in October of 2013.
Dillashaw boasts an 11-2 record and Barao is 34-2.
“I have to show up for my hometown, family and friends,” Dillashaw said. “I need to feed off that energy and give them a good show. I can’t wait.”