By AMBER PAPPE
For The Union Democrat
Short, sweet and on point.
UFC bantamweight TJ Dillashaw wasted little time in laying waste to Japan’s Issei Tamura Saturday night at Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada at UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz.
After decisive wins over Walel Watson and Vaughnn Lee, Dillashaw, who fights out of Sacramento with talent-rich Team Alpha Male, was set to face Mike Easton in December, but was sidelined by injury and was forced to miss the match.
Originally slated to jump back into the mix next month, the two-time State wrestling medalist for Bret Harte High School, took the fight on short notice after injury forced out Tamura’s original opponent, Mitch Gagnon.
Testing each other and finding range in the first moments of Round 1, Tamura solidly landed an inside leg kick; Dillashaw responded with a straight right, grazing Tamura.
At the 30-second mark, Dillashaw connected with a combo, and Tamura countered with an overhand right.
After a series of Dillashaw takedowns and Tamura escapes, the two exchanged up against the cage before referee Yves Lavigne restarted the fighters at center.
Foreshadowing the finish, Dillashaw faked a low kick, barely missed with a high and connected with another low. The fighters closed out the five-minute round with a flurry of punches.
Round 2 opened quickly and ended powerfully. Keeping his gaze down, Dillashaw faked low and fired off a left high kick, his knee connecting with Tamura’s head and crumbling him to the canvas 26 seconds in.
Dillashaw pounced and finished with ground and pound before Lavigne rushed in to save Tamura from the attack.
“I knew he was out when I landed it; I followed up just in case, but he was out,” said Dillashaw. “That was the best KO of my career.”
Dillashaw was quick to acknowledge the impact of Duane Ludwig, Team Alpha Male’s new head coach, as well as the work he puts in with his teammates.
“Everybody is on track with Ludwig. He builds a lot of confidence,” said Dillashaw. “We all have more confidence now.”
With the dominant knockout victory, Dillashaw improves to 8-1 (UFC) and is eyeing top-ranked opponents.
“I feel like I’m right there,” said Dillashaw. “I am tightening up my game even more now that we have a head coach. I’ve also traveled to work with (Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt) Robert Drysdale and (Muay Thai specialist) Shawn Yarborough. I’m always grinding. I work hard, and I take my job seriously.”
In the main event of the evening, 20,145 intense fans witnessed Georges St. Pierre, Montreal’s hometown hero, successfully defend his welterweight title against Stockton’s Nick Diaz; while in the co-main, Johny Hendricks defeated Carlos Condit via unanimous decision in a welterweight battle that earned Fight-of-the-Night honors.