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So Who’s Next?

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TJ Dillashaw is your new champ…  Let me repeat that, but louder so it can sink in and marinate:
TJ DILLASHAW IS YOUR NEW UFC BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!

As an 8-1 underdog, virtually no one outside of Team Alpha Male gave Dillashaw a chance to beat Renan Barão.  Not even Dillashaw’s own boss and UFC president Dana White.  Leading up to the fight Dana White was praising Barão, calling Barão the #1 P4P fighter in the world, and sharing videos that featured Barão.  The lovefest between the world and Barão was serious.  However, Dillashaw decided to pull a Chris Weidman and shock the world by defeating everyone’s #1 P4P.

(First Anderson Silva and now Renan Barão… Watch out Jose Aldo! Dana’s #1 P4Ps are dropping like flies!)

And in Chris Weidman fashion, by beating the king of the division, Dillashaw blew the division wide open.  When Silva was the middleweight champion, the middleweight division was the proverbial redheaded step child of UFC divisions.  No one paid any attention to it because everyone knew Anderson would destroy whoever stepped up, and he did.  That was until the Weidman rain came in and washed the Spider out.  Now the middleweight division is better than it has ever been with contenders left and right – Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Jacare Souza, Luke Rockhold, Hector Lombard, and many others.  Before Chris Weidman, everyone would say Anderson Silva would destroy those guys and not care about the middleweight division, but now that Weidman is here, the division is saved.  TJ Dillashaw is the new Chris Weidman.  The bantamweight division is saved.

With all that being said, let’s look at some of the potential matchups that await our newly crowned champ.

Photo courtesy of UFC.com

Renan Barão:
Chance of this happening is very likely. With 34 straight fights without a loss, it’s hard to say that Renan Barão doesn’t deserve an immediate rematch.  Anyone can have an off night; even the best in the world (just ask the ’07 New England Patriots).  Even Anderson Silva got himself an immediate rematch for having “an off night.”  I can definitely see Barão getting the same treatment and getting an immediate chance at redemption.  The fight practically sells itself, Dillashaw is easily the hottest name in the MMA world right now and this fight will make the UFC more money than any other bantamweight fight.

Photo courtesy of UFC.com

Raphael Assunção:
Chances of this fight happening is also very likey.  Many are saying that Assunção should get the next bantamweight title shot. After all, he is the last person to defeat Dillashaw.  Let’s not forget that Assunção was on tap to face the champ, but injuries forced Dillashaw to step up.  There’s your story.  I can see it now, “I beat this guy before and he took my title shot, but I’m back to take what’s rightfully mine…” Or, something like that.  This fight will sell, but not nearly as well as Dillashaw/Barão II, in my opinion.

Phot courtesy of UFC.com

Dominick Cruz:
Chances of this fight happening is likely.  He’s the former champ, but was never defeated.  Injuries caused him to lose his title.  This is another fight that could sell because you have the champ and the returning champ who already has a history with Dillashaw’s camp.  Also, Dillashaw and Cruz have basically the same style: In and out, constant switching of the stances, and unorthodox movement to create angles.  This is a wild matchup on paper and I would love to see it, personally.

Photo courtesy of UFC.com

Urijah Faber:
Chances of this happening are better than you’d think.  Duane Ludwig is setting up shopin Colorado to start his own gym. Everyone knows of the bromance between Dillashaw and Ludwig.  I can see Dillashaw leaving Team Alpha Male to join Ludwig in Colorado.  Could this cause some tension between Faber and Dillashaw?  I don’t know, but if it does, I can see this fight being made instantly.  Urijah is a winner , has never lost a non-title shot, and nearing the end of his career.  Do you honestly think if the opportunity came, he’d pass it up? I don’t think he would.  Also, Ludwig could go the Paul Heyman route leading up to the fight and hype Dillashaw as the man who conquered Renan Barão’s streak… Just kidding, but the fight would have a fun buildup anyways. That’s if it ever happens.

The future is wild in the bantamweight division with Dillashaw as champ.  No matter what the matchup is, I’m sure no one is going to count him out.

All photos courtesy of UFC.com