Barao a live dog in rematch with Dillashaw
July 21, 2015 3:03 AM
by Vegas Runner
After multiple delays due to injuries, the long awaited rematch for bantamweight supremacy inside the Octagon takes place this Saturday night when the United Center in Chicago hosts UFC on FOX 16.
Though fight fans have plenty of bouts to get excited for on this very stacked card, it’s the long awaited rematch between the current 135-pound champion TJ Dillashaw (12-2) and former title holder Renan Barao (35-2, 1 NC) they’re most anxious to finally witness.
It’s been over a year since Dillashaw shocked the MMA world by capturing UFC gold by handing Barao his first defeat in more than 10 years after 32 straight victories. Barao had not lost inside the cage since his professional debut and oddsmakers did not expect him to lose in May of 2014 at UFC 173.
In fact, Barao had earned his spot near the very top of most “best pound for pound” lists, and he entered the Octagon that night as a -800 favorite to retain his title.
In simple terms it meant the betting market reflected Barao had an almost 90% chance to win but Dillashaw defied those odds by dominating the fight from the opening bell. The challenger landed 76 more strikes, which took their toll and ultimately led to his fifth round triumph via TKO/KO.
This time around for UFC on FOX 16 not only is Dillashaw entering the Octagon with the strap around his waist, but he’s also been listed as the favorite. The current betting line displays TJ as high as -220, echoing a 68% chance to preserve his bantamweight crown.
Renan trains out of Nova Uniao in Brazil where he works with 145-pound champion and arguably the best mixed martial artist competing in the UFC today, Jose Aldo. Both Barao and Aldo have faced numerous Team Alpha Male fighters in the past and they’re focused on implementing a different game plan for the rematch with Dillashaw.
For Barao, he’ll need to use his 3 inch reach advantage to disrupt the busier Dillashaw who has landed over 5.5 strikes per minute on opponents. He’ll need to be much more aggressive this time out rather than find himself in a position where he’s constantly countering TJ and on the defensive.
Barao has successfully defended 94% of take-down attempts and was able to remain upright throughout the first encounter even though Dillashaw had successfully taken down six straight opponents heading into that bout.
Though Renan is primarily known as a deadly striker, he’s also an accomplished BJJ practitioner, which is evident by the fact 5 of his last 10 wins have come by way of submission.
For Dillashaw, he simply needs to approach the rematch as if it’s round 6 and pick up right where he left off. He kept Barao guessing the entire fight and applied pressure for 5 minutes of every round.
Like almost all Team Alpha Male products, TJ is a former Division 1 wrestler who has evolved into a well-rounded MMA fighter. He has transitioned himself into a very dangerous striker who is difficult to hit, as opponents have been able to land only 32% of their strikes.
The champion has never been taken down inside the Octagon but he averages two successful take-downs per 15 minutes, which helps him dictate where the fight takes place.
In their first bout it became obvious early on that Dillashaw held a significant speed advantage and the much bigger and more powerful Barao was not prepared to combat it. Sure, they both weigh in at 135 pounds but Renan rehydrates to a much heavier weight. He had to back out of a scheduled rematch with Dillashaw due to medical complications during his weight cut back in October, but all reports coming out of Barao’s camp point to a much smoother weight cut this time.
Finally, let’s not forget just how dominant Barao has been throughout his career, and all the experience he brings with him to this fight. It was only a year ago that these same experts who are claiming Dillashaw has figured out the Barao puzzle were saying the Brazilian may be the best fighter on the UFC roster.
It was also a year ago that bookmakers had Barao listed as a -800 favorite against Dillashaw. Has so much changed to justify now making him a +180 underdog?
Personally, I believe this is a perfect example of the betting market overreacting and I’d go as far as stating the wrong fighter is favored in this bout. In fact, rather than take the chance this line will drop between now and Saturday, I went ahead and backed my opinion with cash and feel confident I got the best of it when I put my money down on Barao.
Pick: Barao +180
Vegas-Runner is a professional bettor/handicapper featured on CNBC, ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, CBS This Morning, The Herd, JT the Brick, & More. Follow VR on Twitter @vegasrunner, and at the home of the Animals, Phillygodfather.com. Contact Vegas Runner at VegasRunner@GamingToday.com.