The rematch finally takes place, as champion T.J. Dillashaw gets the opportunity the solidify his place at the top, against the man he dethroned, Renan Barao. Complications during a weight cut halted the first scheduled rubber match between the two, as Barao couldn’t make it to the scale. Dillashaw went on to dismantle the last-minute replacement, Joe Soto, but really needs to beat Barao in decisive fashion once again to show the world he is the best in the division. In another quest to the top, Jessica Eye is looking to make her own impression on the women’s bantamweight division as she takes on Miesha Tate. With a UFC women’s bantamweight title shot almost certainly on the line, Eye aspires to achieve match with one of the most dominant champions in the world, Ronda Rousey. The UFC prelims get started on Fight Pass at 4:15 p.m. EST, hit FOX Sports 1 at 6 p.m. EST, then finally landing on FOX at 8 p.m. EST. Fantasy implications and title aspirations in the balance in Chicago, time to evaluate!
[C] T.J. Dillashaw (12-2) vs. #1 Renan Barao (35-2) Bantamweight Championship Bout – The more fans and critics alike keep feeding the ego of champ, T.J. Dillashaw, the hungrier a former champ and pound for pound great gets hungrier. Renan Barao is being heavily underrated going into the second bout between these two, when Dillashaw stunned everyone and finished Barao within five rounds. People seem to forget that before Barao’s loss, he had won 31 fights in a row, and considered one of the best champions in the UFC. It seemed as if it was impossible his reign would fall until the California native knocked him off his proverbial perch. Back to the subject at hand, the second fight will not be anything like the first. The Brazilian will adjust, making Dillashaw jump to either plan b or c. A finish is highly unlikely this time, which will mean neither will be a huge fantasy factor unless the punches roll in bunches. Dillashaw is more technical standing up, and does possess the better wrestling, yet Barao is the more explosive and dangerous fighter. By the slimmest of margins the MMA Spotlight gives T.J. Dillashaw the edge, but it would not surprise anyone if Barao reclaimed his UFC title. T.J. Dillashaw via Unanimous Decision.
#2 Miesha Tate (16-5) vs. #5 Jessica Eye (11-2) Women’s Bantamweight Bout – It can be hard to grasp that a top two fighter in the division is a gate-keeper or a measuring stick, but that is exactly what Miesha Tate is. She is the only woman on the UFC roster to last a round with “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, but fell victim like every one else in the champion’s wake. Jessica Eye has been waiting for her potential bubble to burst, which may have a bit when she exploded Leslie Smith’s ear. Tate’s overall game is above average, but cannot hang with excellent strikers such as Eye, and Eye can wrestle just enough to keep this on the feet. Look for Eye to dance around Tate like she did against Smith, land her jabs and straights, and outwork the former UFC title challenger. Not to mention the fact many prefer to see a new face take on Rousey, not a third straight demolition. Finish here is unlikely, but on output alone, Jessica Eye may provide a little fantasy value. Jessica Eye via Unanimous Decision.
#7 Edson Barboza (15-3) vs. Paul Felder (10-0) Lightweight Bout – This fight is a vicious finish in the making, Barboza looking to rebound off a loss, Felder hoping to keep his undefeated record alive. Barboza seems to rebound nicely after losses, finishing each opponent after two previous losses. The style Felder provides may give him the opportunity to do just that, as the Renzo Gracie trained fighter loves to push the pace. Either way this goes, fireworks are sure to be had here, with Barboza getting the slight edge having fought the tougher competition throughout his career thus far in the UFC. Edson Barboza via Technical Knockout.
Joe Lauzon (24-11) vs. Takanori Gomi (35-10) Lightweight Bout – Boy would have this fight been something to see not but a few years ago. The careers of J-Lo and “The Fireball Kid” are slowly fading, but their aggressive approach and willingness to brawl will keep them relevant in the short-term. Both are coming off losses, which also provides a bit more initiative for them to get back into the winning column. Lauzon has become quite susceptible to getting caught and staggered standing, leaving him open for some fireballs right down the middle from Gomi. This is a great opening fight for the card on FOX, but this one does not go the distance. Takanori Gomi via Technical Knockout.
The preliminary card itself does not lack in action, as fan favorites such as Jim Miller, Ben Saunders, Eddie Wineland, and Tom Lawlor all step foot inside the UFC octagon. Next Saturday, UFC’s reigning women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, looks to run right through another opponent, as she takes on rival Bethe Correia. The Party must continue on, follow all the coverage here in the MMA Spotlight section.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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Bloody Elbow – UFC on Fox: Dillashaw vs. Barao II – Idiot’s Guide Preview to Joe Lauzon vs. Takanori Gomi
Sherdog – Preview: UFC ON FOX 16 ‘Dillashaw vs. Barao 2’
FOX Sports – 5 Reasons to Watch: FOX UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Barao 2