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Few UFC championship fights have been as stirring – or as surprising – as TJ Dillshaw’s victory over Renan Barao for the bantamweight title in May 2014.
Dillashaw was a considerable underdog with a 10-2 professional record when he faced Barao, arguably the greatest bantamweight in MMA history, at UFC 173 in Las Vegas. Barao brought in a 34-1 record, was on a 22-fight win streak and hadn’t lost in nine years.
But Dillashaw pulled off a stunning upset, using quick hands and exceptional footwork to dominate Barao from the start before finishing him with a fifth-round TKO.
“All you have to do is believe, baby!” Dillashaw said in the Octagon. “Believe you’re the best in the world and you’ll get here!”
Dillashaw’s rise through the ranks wasn’t exactly meteoric, but he progressed quickly after turning pro in 2010.
TRAINING: My day generally consists of morning pro practice, followed by either wrestling, grappling or sparring, and then some Bang Muay Thai in the afternoon. In the evening I do strength and conditioning and find time for rest and recovery between each practice.
When and why did you start training for fighting? I started training after I graduated college and my college wrestling career was over. I didn’t reach all my goals in wrestling and wasn’t done competing, so, being a well rounded athlete, I thought I could be good at fighting and I gave it a shot.
What ranks and titles have you held? UFC bantamweight champion
Do you have any heroes? No
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? It’s one step closer to what I have been working for in the last two years.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology- clinical exercise science from Cal State Fullerton
What was your job before you started fighting? Student
Specific accomplishments in amateur competition? Three-time NCAA qualifier, ranked 10th in nation (wrestling)