We review the UFC odds being offered for the upcoming UFC Bantamweight title tilt in Montreal, Canada featuring a rematch between current & former champions T.J. Dillashaw & Renan Barao.
Renan Barao (33-2, 8 KO's, 15 Subs)
When Renan Barao defended his bantamweight title at UFC 173 against T.J. Dillashaw the UFC odds on the champion were -1000 and most were looking at Dillashaw as a tough but beatable opponent. However, Dillashaw had his own ending to the story and it played out in the form of a missed left hook followed immediately with a roundhouse to the head which was the beginning of the end for Renan Barao.
It was, in Urijah Faber's words - surreal. Barao had reeled off 32 consecutive victories after losing his debut 10 years prior. That's right, 10 years without a loss and three successive finishes in defense of his title until his date with Dillashaw. It was a phenomenal upset but Barao got right back on his horse and choked out Mitch Gagnon in December of last year after being hospitalized trying to cut weight for his rematch with Dillashaw two months prior.
T.J. Dillashaw (11-2, 5 KO's, 3 Subs)
T.J. Dillashaw stunned the world of MMA with his fifth round TKO of Renan Barao to claim the title at UFC 173. After coming off a successful though far from legendary Division 1 wrestling career at Cal State Fullerton Dillashaw found himself aligned with Urijah Faber and received an invitation to train with Team Alpha Male. During his MMA training Dillashaw has become a disciple of former kickboxing champion and MMA veteran Duane Ludwig and has earned a black belt in Ludwig's Bang Muay Thai system.
Perhaps it is that fighting skill that has allowed Dillashaw to morph from a typical wrestler/grappler to a complete fighter who possesses the ability to devastate standing up while having the ability to rule the mat if the fight falls to the ground. And it is the threat of his wrestling skills that concerned Barao so much in their championship bout that he took a beating in their first match just thinking about it. However the wrestling was simply a decoy as Dillashaw used precise striking techniques, slick footwork and mystifying angles to keep Barao off his guard and guessing as to where the next strike would emanate.
As of this writing the champion will find himself in a far different place than where he was at UFC 173. He has morphed from a +750 underdog in UFC odds to about a -200 betting favorite. Dillashaw is a fighter who adapts, learns and gets better. He improved each and every year during his collegiate wrestling career and his trajectory has been similar in MMA. Dillashaw's stand up game is phenomenal and it was astounding to see a fighter of Barao's magnitude vexed in the midst of his attack.
With all of these plaudits, accolades & UFC picks going to the current champ I believe it is a huge overreaction to make a fighter like Barao, who was seemingly invincible a year ago, a decent sized underdog. Barao has the skills to turn this fight around and keep Dillashaw at bay. He has seen the new and improved T.J. Dillashaw and has the skills to counter those crazy angles, awkward feints and multi-level attacks.
I believe that this fight will go the distance and I also believe you will see an attacking rather than countering Renan Barao who will not be so firmly planted in his kicks but will move, stick and attack. Dillashaw will most definitely get his licks in but Barao is now an informed receiver of Dillashaw's punishment and will use that information to adjust his game.
UFC Pick: Renan Barao +210 at BetOnline