UFC 177 is currently scheduled to feature a rematch for the UFC bantamweight title as the evening’s headliner. But that’s not the way it should be.

To begin the discussion of UFC 177’s main-event clash between new champion T.J. Dillashaw and former champ Renan Barao, you’ll have to rewind time back to UFC 173, when the two first fought.

The fight at UFC 173 had Barao making another title defense against Team Alpha Male. The Brazilian had beaten Urijah Faber in his previous fight, and Dillashaw appeared to be nothing more than a warm body for Barao to look good against. The UFC did its best at hyping up Barao as a top pound-for-pound fighter. Meanwhile, Dillashaw, who was stepping in for Raphael Assuncao, flew under the radar. The UFC 173 clash had all the makings of a massacre with four-ounce gloves.

It was just that, but not in the way everyone expected.

The person who controlled the fight was Dillashaw, not Barao, the previously dominant champion. Dillashaw showed just what a fighter with good footwork is capable of as he ran circles around the Brazilian. Dillashaw owned the fight and eventually secured a TKO finish with a combination of a head kick and punches in the fifth round. With his victory heralded as one of the greatest upsets and spectacular performances of all time, Dillashaw had to be feeling on top of the world.

The UFC was also likely feeling pretty great about Dillashaw’s win. Yes, the promotion lost out on a dominant champion in Barao, but in turn the division became wide open with a new champ. The UFC also had gained another English-speaking titleholder, which helps its marketing abilities. In addition, the UFC could claim that Dillashaw earned his stripes while competing on The Ultimate Fighter, giving the reality show some credibility where it had been extremely lacking in recent years.

With a handful of new opportunities for title contenders, the UFC kept it simple. Instead of pairing up Dillashaw with Assuncao, the man who was scheduled to face Barao at UFC 173 (and a man who owns a victory over Dillashaw) the promotion opted to give Barao an immediate rematch. The first question that should’ve popped into everyone’s head was, “Why?”

It’d be one thing if the fight was razor close, like the Benson Henderson-Frankie Edgar battles or the Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard fights, but this wasn’t. It’d be acceptable for an immediate rematch if there was some form of controversy, like Vitor Belfort cutting Randy Couture’s eye lid at UFC 46. But at UFC 173, there was no question who the better fighter was.

There are plenty of Barao fans who will make the claim that Barao was overlooking Dillashaw at UFC 173. Maybe he was, but why should he be rewarded with an immediate rematch for overlooking an opponent?

When Georges St-Pierre lost to Matt Serra at UFC 69, GSP wasn’t given an immediate rematch. Instead, St-Pierre showed that he was re-focused on his MMA career and soundly defeated Josh Koscheck in his next fight. Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez were not granted immediate rematches after the two exchanged dominant wins over the other. Alexander Gustafsson had to settle for a bout on Fight Pass instead of getting a rematch against Jon Jones. There are countless other examples of champions and challengers not getting immediate rematches where the circumstances certainly would’ve called for one.

Now, to be fair, Barao had built up one hell of a resume prior to his UFC 173 defeat. It goes without saying that the Brazilian had been on an incredible winning streak (before UFC 173, Barao had only one loss on his record, which came in his pro debut nine years earlier). Perhaps this is what the promotion is using as reason for Barao’s immediate rematch.

It will be interesting to see if the Brazilian comes into UFC 177 with renewed focus or if the same results will play out again. But we wouldn’t have to worry about that if the UFC had gone the usual route and made the fallen champion pick up another win to show that his is back on top of his game.

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.