It’s the kind of stuff dreams are made of. Joe Soto will step in for Renan Barao, who couldn’t make weight, to fight TJ Dillashaw for the UFC bantamweight championship.
Dillashaw, who upset Barao to win the title, is an 11-1 favorite over Soto, 15-2.
Soto was scheduled to appear on the Fox Sports 1 undercard, but now has been thrust into the spotlight. Dillashaw, 10-2, should be careful with the replacement fighter. Although Dillashaw is a better overall fighter, it means something when you aren’t able to train for the person you fight.
Dillashaw has everything to lose and little to gain by defeating Soto, who on the other hand only stands to benefit tonight. If Soto wins he becomes a UFC champion overnight. If he loses, he doesn’t really lose because he will make a name for himself and no one really expects him to win.
It’s the kind of opportunity most fighters dream of.
It’s clear that Dillashaw is upset that his fight with Barao won’t happen. Dillashaw upset Barao, who had been regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world during his run as interim and then eventually UFC bantamweight champion.
Dillashaw knocked Barao out in May with a head kick in the fifth round after dominating him the entire fight. Dillashaw was looking forward to proving that his victory was no fuke. The fight might never happen now.
Dillashaw said on a promotional video for the UFC that Barao was unprofessional not making the 135-pound weight limit.
“This is pathetic,” Dillashaw said “You can’t do your job. Show up, be a professional. Make weight. It’s just pathetic man.”
Dillashaw said earlier that that he believed that he had broken Barao and that the Brazilian fighter was simply scared of him in the rematch.
Soto will come out hungry against Dillashaw, so Dillashaw must avoid the letdown and keep his mind focused on his opponent.