Despite his domination of the former champ, current UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw is likely to face Renan Barão, the man he took the belt from, in an immediate rematch in his first defense of the belt.
UFC president Dana White, in his second media scrum in as many days in Vancouver, said that Dillashaw was rewarded with a new, more lucrative contract after knocking off Barão at UFC 173 in May. Although he ruled the fight from start to finish, he’ll likely have to do it all again.
“What we did was, we brought him into the office and ripped his contract up into tiny little pieces and made him a new one,” White said, but he wasn’t ready to move him away from the Brazilian, who hadn’t lost in 33 consecutive bouts prior to losing the title.
“It’s probably going to be a Barão rematch,” White answered when asked who is next for Dillashaw. “How do you not? The guy was undefeated all those years.
“I agree Barão got a five-round ass whooping and got finished, but how does it not make sense to give him a rematch? And who doesn’t want to see it?”
There are a few people that don’t want to see it. Or rather, they’d like to see other fights first.
Raphael Assuncao is surely one man that is rooting against a Dillashaw vs. Barão rematch.
Assuncao is undefeated since making the move to bantamweight in 2011. He’s won six consecutive bouts, including a split-decision victory over Dillashaw that earned Fight of the Night honors.
Another person that doesn’t think Barão should get an immediate rematch is Dillashaw’s coach, Duane “Bang” Ludwig.
Dillashaw rose to the greatest successes of his career under the tutelage of Ludwig, and has said he fully intends to continue working with Ludwig and his Bang Muay Thai system even though Ludwig is no longer the head coach at the Team Alpha Male gym in California.
Confronted with the idea of the rematch, Ludwig said, “TJ’s Bang Muay Thai is too strong for Barão.”
And like many other people, Assuncao was the first name to roll off Ludwig’s tongue when asked whom he felt deserved the title shot right now more than Barão. And if not Assuncao, Ludwig said that Dillashaw’s teammate and mentor Urijah Faber is deserving.
That’s not to say that Ludwig is stirring the pot between the longtime teammates, although both fighters have gone on record saying that while they don’t necessarily want to fight each other, under the right circumstances, they would.
Faber, however, is coming off of a second loss to Barão, which sandwiched four consecutive victories. So he isn't likely to get a shot without first stringing together a few wins.
White wasn't proposing the fight by any means, but backed the idea that Dillashaw vs. Faber wasn’t out of the realm of possibility at some point, in fact, it was quite the opposite.
“They'll fight each other tomorrow,” he said. “Trust me, that fight is absolutely one of the other ones that could happen, too.”