After upset, UFC’s TJ Dillashaw happy to get back in the octagon in Chicago
CHICAGO – These sort of things are a little bit new to him. But that’s what you get when you pull an upset.
From an unknown to a champion in one night. From trying to get people to know you to being in the know is an experience few have had in sports.
T.J. Dillashaw is getting that for the first time.
“The media obligations and how busy I am,” said the UFC Bantamweight Champion when asked how his upset win over Renan Barao in May of 2014 changed his career.
Dillashaw’s win at UFC 173 wasn’t supposed to happen. He was supposed to face another fighter but cancellations pitted him against then Bantamweight Champion Baroa. Much to the surprise of the MMA world, Dillashaw scored a technical knock out of Barao in the fifth round to grab the championship.
That brought an incredible amount of attention to Dillashaw-a former college wrestler turned mixed martial arts fighter and now UFC Champion.
He’ll be the headliner when the UFC returns to Chicago for fight night this Saturday for Fight Night at the United Center. Dillashaw is front and center as he takes on Barao for the first time since the upset 14 months ago.
“It’s taken some getting used to,” said Dillashaw of the attention since winning the Bantamweight Championship. “A lot more in the media like I said, a lot more busy. Having to learn how to control training with the outside work you’ve got to do.”
Dillashaw match is the attention-grabber of the 12-card fight that includes four early prelims, four prelims and then a main card of four fights. It will be the only championship bout of the night and one that's almost happened twice before.
A rematch was scheduled at UFC 177 last August but Barao was hospitalized the day of the fight and Dillashaw faced Joe Soto whom he beat. That was Dillashaw's last fight.
Another rematch was scheduled for April but it was cancelled after Dillashaw suffered an injury. Finally getting the chance to face Barao brings as much relief to the champion as excitement.
"I'm definitely ready to get this fight behind me. It's been a year since I fought him and almost a year since I fought my last fight. So I'm excited to get in there, for one and fight anybody but especially to just get Barao behind me."
This will mark Dillashaw's 14th UFC fight and he comes to Chicago sports an 11-2 MMA record. It's his first ever fight in the Windy City-a place the California native has rarely visited outside of a few snowy days.
As he gets a better introduction to the city Dillashaw hopes Chicago fans get a good luck at what he and the sport are all about.
"They can expect just raw emotion and excitement," said Dillashaw of Fight Night. "I've never had a boring fight. They better be ready that I'm gonna come to deliver and it's going to be a great night."
Just like the last year for the UFC's newest champion-even if that means he's a little more in the know among MMA fans.