With 2014 rapidly coming to a close, we at Fight at the Night have decided to look at some of the biggest upsets in MMA this year.
Like every year, 2014 contained a number of upsets across a number of organisations. However, there was one fight whose result stood head and shoulders above the rest not just for the biggest upset of 2014, but perhaps even for the biggest upset of all time.
TJ Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao
It would come as little surprise to anyone to see TJ Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao at the top of this list. In fact, while we also consider the other matches in this piece upsets, we probably could have just ended it at this one.
Few people predicted that Dillashaw would beat Barao to become the UFC Bantamweight champion, and some were even wondering whether he deserved to challenge the Brazilian for the title in the first place.
Dillashaw was just one fight removed from his last loss, a controversial but close split decision loss to Raphael Assunção.
The Californian was not even slated to face Barao at UFC 173 in the first place.
He was originally booked to fight Japanese bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki at the event, but was put in a title fight against Barao after the original Main Event – Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort (later changed to Lyoto Machida – fell through.
Dillashaw was not even the UFC’s first preference to challenge Barao, having presented Assunção with the opportunity first, which was declined as Assunção was nursing a rib injury.
Barao had established a reputation as being one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world prior to the bout. He has a 7-0 record in the Octagaon, including three title defences (all of which were finishes) and an overall MMA record of 32-1.
Dillashaw, on the other hand, had a record of 9-2 and lost the grand final of the Ultimate Fighter 14 by TKO against John Dodson.
He had been improving, however, having won five of his six subsequent bouts in the Octagon. Despite that, Barao was a heavy favourite to win the fight and it was widely expected that he would leave UFC 173 with the strap still around his waist.
It was not to be.
Dillashaw shocked the MMA world from the opening bell, having overwhelmed Barao with superior speed, movement and intensity as he wore the Brazilian down for the first four rounds.
The Brazilian, who had dominated all fighters in his previous UFC bouts, had no answer for Dillashaw’s clever and highly effective game plan, and succumbed to Dillashaw’s strikes in the fifth round.
The prolonged and unexpected domination of Barao by Dillashaw makes the win by far the biggest MMA upset of 2014.