T.J. Dillashaw prepared for the first defense of his Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight title in his hometown of Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday night hoping for a repeat performance of the night he won the belt from Renan Barao in May.
Even though his opponent changed to Joe Soto on Friday because of Barao’s difficulty cutting weight, the actual fight looked pretty much the same.
As in his upset win over Barao in May, Dillashaw peppered Soto with shots before finally capitalizing on an opening and knocking him out in the fifth and final round to retain the belt in the main event of UFC 177.
“Its been crazy,” Dillashaw said of the events of the last 24 hours. “Soto’s a tough opponent, but there’s no way I was not going to put a show on for Sacramento.”
Soto landed some decent shots and represented himself well in his UFC debut, but Dillashaw was just too good.
The result did little to dampen Soto’s excitement over making his UFC debut in a championship bout. “It was a dream come true, an honor the UFC asked me to fight for the title,” he said.
Also, lightweight Tony Ferguson won a split decision over Danny Castillo, and Bethe Correia remained unbeaten by knocking out Shayna Baszler in a women’s bantamweight bout.
Ferguson, the Season 13 champion on “The Ultimate Fighter,” improved to 6-1 in the UFC with his third straight win despite spending a bit of time on his back.
“I’m not happy. I left it to the judges, and you’re not supposed to do that. I threw kicks, but he just laid there and didn’t do anything,” Ferguson said.
Castillo was frustrated losing the decision in the city where he lives and trains.
“I controlled a grown man on his back,” Castillo said after apologizing to the fans, his friends and family for the loss. “If we were in prison, he’d be in trouble.”
Correia battered Baszler against the cage for an extended time before the referee stepped in to end the abuse while both fighters were still on their feet.
Baszler was the second member of women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey’s team, known as the “Four Horsewomen,” that Correia has defeated in the UFC. She hopes to get a chance at Rousey soon.
“My message to Ronda: If there’s someone who will retire without any losses in the UFC, it’s going to be me,” Correia said. “I’m going to retire with the belt, not her.”
The other two main card fights, both in the lightweight division, ended in the second round. Carlos Diego Ferreira knocked out Ramsey Nijem, and Yancy Medeiros submitted Damon Jackson.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.