T.J. Dillashaw seeks a repeat performance at UFC 177. | Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
A familiar face awaits Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight titleholder T.J. Dillashaw, as he prepares to defend his 135-pound title for the first time.
Dillashaw will face former champion Renan Barao in the UFC 177 headliner on Saturday at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif. The Team Alpha Male standout dethroned Barao at UFC 173 in May, stopping the Brazilian and snapping his 22-fight winning streak with a fifth-round technical knockout. Now, they meet again.
Sherdog.com touched base with a number of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the UFC 177 main event:
Brock Jardine: T.J. does it again, probably in a shorter time, as well. He wins by TKO in the third.
Josh Sampo: I’m excited for this fight. Dillashaw has proven that anyone can be beaten in any fight. I feel Dillashaw is the favorite with his speed and toughness. I know Barao will bring the fight to T.J. I pick Dillashaw by decision.
Tony Martin: Barao wins by decision. He is going to come in very motivated.
Tom DeBlass: Dillashaw wins by decision.
Ryan Benoit: Dillashaw found his groove last time and kept going with it. I don’t think Barao will let him get going so easily this time, but with [Duane] Ludwig training him, he could very easily pick right back up where he left off. Dillashaw takes it via TKO in round one.
James Vick: Dillashaw wins by unanimous decision.
Beneil Dariush: Barao wins. I think he will show better focus in this fight.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: The first time I picked Barao just like the rest of the world. I can’t pick against Ludwig’s coaching in this fight. “Bang” has done an amazing job with Dillashaw, and you can really see how those two guys mesh. Dillashaw has all the physical tools to beat Barao again. I think T.J. has the mental edge in this fight, also. Barao might have some doubts in his head after that last fight. I’m going to take Dillashaw by TKO in about three rounds.
Keith Berry: I’m taking Dillashaw by decision in a five-round war.
Joe Duarte: As much of a beast Barao is, I will have to go with Dillashaw. No doubt Barao will be more prepared this time around, but it is hard to trump Dillashaw’s last performance. If he can repeat what he did in the first fight, he will remain champ.
Chris Clements: I’m going to go with Dillashaw again. His movement is just amazing, and the pace is hard to keep up with. I have always thought that movement is one of the best weapons a fighter can have. You can’t hit what you can’t catch, and it’s hard to stop getting hit with something that you can’t see coming.
Igor Araujo: Barao wins by third-round TKO.
Ray Elbe: Ludwig and Dillashaw put together a beautiful game plan for the last bout against Barao. However, Barao will be better prepared for this fight, and I anticipate Nova Uniao helping him make the required adjustments to regain the championship belt.
Jeff Hougland: After seeing what Dillashaw did in the first fight, I’m going to have to go with him again. With that said, I think Barao will be better prepared this time and make it a more of a back-and-forth fight. So my pick is Dillashaw by unanimous decision.
Eric Prindle: They are both tremendous athletes and real students of mixed martial arts. I believe they have both learned from their first fight, but the real workhorse is going to win this fight. Dillashaw is going to use the knowledge from their first fight and implement his gameplan to a T. He will outpoint Barao, grinding out the win.
Javier Vazquez: I’m not sure Barao has had enough time to make the necessary adjustments to beat Dillashaw, and Dillashaw seems very confident. I think it will be closer, but I’ll take Dillashaw by decision.
Colton Smith: After a near-perfect fight posted by Dillashaw in their last outing, I believe this fight will be much closer. The Team Alpha Male standout will sneak out a close, five-round decision, solidifying his status as the UFC champion. Look for a “Fight of the Night” performance from both fighters.
Yves Edwards: If this was their first fight, I would’ve said, “Barao has dominated everyone that he’s fought completely and I think he’s going to do the same to Dillashaw, even though I hope I’m wrong.” After seeing the fight, you can transpose their names and omit that I hope I’m wrong, and there you have it.
Nam Phan: Dillashaw all the way.
Mark Bocek: Barao wins by decision.
John Gunderson: I’m going with Dillashaw. He looked great in his destruction of Barao, and I think he’ll get him again the same way.
THE FINAL TALLYPros Picking Dillashaw: 16
Pros Picking Barao: 5
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