TJ Dillashaw got off to a slow start by his standards tonight in the main event of UFC 177 against late replacement Joe Soto, but he soon found his rhythm and produced a tremendous volume of strikes as the rounds progressed before putting a bow on his performance with a fifth round head kick knockout.
Dillashaw darting in and out to start the main event. He misses with an uppercut and soon after just grazes Soto’s head with a hook.
Rangey punches from Dillashaw and then a kick that takes Soto off his feet momentarily. Dillashaw with a body kick, but Soto catches it. They scramble for position and Dillashaw ends up taking Soto’s back. Soto manages to get back up soon after though.
Soto ducks under a kick from Dillashaw. Dillashaw pushing the pace, but Soto is showing some ability to land counters here as the champ gets a little overeager to impose his offense.
Leg kick from Dillashaw and a nice body shot too. Body kick by Soto that’s blocked. Pace slowing down now.
Good uppercut from Soto as the action heats up again in the final 30 seconds. He lands a solid leg kick that knocks Dillashaw off-balance. Soto sticks his tongue out, clearly warming to the contest here.
Dillashaw comes in aggressive again with punches and Soto is landing frequently with counters here. Good work from the short-notice challenger.
Dillashaw lands a couple of chopping outside leg kicks. He scores with an uppercut too. Dillashaw with a nice comnbination as Soto covers up. Soto returns fire with a punch of his own.
Soto presses forward with punches. Dillashaw strings together a combination of punches. Soto now pushing the pace and Dillashaw lands a nice hook.
Dillashaw shows good movement and then finds an angle for a solid uppercut. Soto marching forward, but Dillashaw works him backwards with rapid fire punches and a knee up the middle that’s largely blocked by the challenger.
Dillashaw thinks about a takedown, but then abandons it and goes back to the strikes. Dillashaw upping his output, throwing a nice volume of punches in the final minute, but Soto remains composed and is willing to return fire, albeit not at the same clip as the champion.
Dillashaw with leg kicks to start the round. A fluid combination of strikes follows. Body kick lands for Dillashaw and Soto lands a punch in response.
The champion is really piecing together some nice combinations now and occasionally working in a nice body shot. He mixes in a high kick to the mix.
Soto tries for a takedown, but Dillashaw is able to stuff it. Body kick from the champ. Rapid-fire punches from Dillashaw and not much coming back from Soto. Dillashaw looking good right now. He manages to land a takedown attempt, though Soto does well to get up fairly quickly.
More efficient, accurate combinations from Dillashaw. Soto catches him with a good right hand and another punch lands hard shortly afterwards. It’s just single shots from the challenger though, he’s not able to match the output from Dillashaw.
Dillashaw unleashes a final flurry, beautifully mixing in a head kick with his punches to keep Soto on his toes.
An early uppercut attempt from Dillashaw and then just misses with a head kick. He tries another, but it’s blocked.
Dillashaw misses with a leg kick attempt. Another one lands well though. A couple of right hooks from Soto. He’s starting to push again and lets his hands go, but Dillashaw then keeps him at bay by flicking out his jab.
More volume punching antics from Dillashaw who’s showing very cardio here in the championship rounds.
Soto with a nice body shot as he presses the action. Dillashaw suddenly changes things up, landing a takedown with a little less than 90 seconds of the round remaining. He’s working in Soto’s guard, taking his time. Soto finds room to move and Dillashaw tries to take his back, but the challenger scrambles to his feet and that’s the final action of the round.
Soto in on a low single to start, but Dillashaw fights it off. Dillashaw lands a body kick. He goes upstairs with another kick, but Soto blocks it.
Soto covering up against the cage as Dillashaw starts to unload punches, but then he bites down on his gumshield and starts to return fire.
Punches from Dillashaw but all credit to Soto, he’s still hanging on in there.
Oops, I may have spoke to soon – suddenly Dillashaw unleashes a head kick after a flurry of punches and Soto is rocked badly, pretty much out on his feet as he wobbles around the Octagon for a couple of seconds before Dillashaw greets him with a left hand that seals the deal, dropping him to the canvas.
The referee’s seen enough and rushes in to end the fight, handing Dillashaw an impressive knockout victory with 2.20mins of the final round gone to successfully defend his bantamweight title for the first time.