Fullerton, Calif. - Former Cal State Fullerton wrestler T.J. Dillashaw knocked out Renan Barao at the 2:26 mark in the fifth and final round of the UFC 173 title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night in Las Vegas to earn his first bantamweight world championship.
Dillashaw (11-2) was the underdog going in to the bout with the reigning champion Barao who boasted a 34-fight unbeaten streak dating back to 2005. The loss drops Barao to 34-2 with 1 NC.
"I've dreamed it for so long, it's unbelievable," Dillashaw said. "All you have to do is believe you're the best in the world and you'll get here.
“I’ve been looking up to the guy (Barao), he’s the best in the world and that brought the best out of me. I had to bring my A game.”
The 28-year-old, who wrestled for the Titans from 2006-09, issued a head kick and a left hook followed by a flurry of punches that sent the former champ to the mat in the final round prompting referee Herb Dean to step in and call it. The 5-foot-6, 135-pounder made his statement early on to the 11,000 on hand as an overhand right knocked Barao down with a minute remaining in the first round.
Dillashaw landed 169 stikes, with 140 of them being considered significant strikes. Barao was just 68-of-277, with 64 significant strikes.
While at Fullerton under then-Head Coach Dan Hicks, Dillashaw reached modest success, ranking as high as 10th in the nation at 133-pound weight class as a senior.
Another former Titan shared the headlined bill with Dillashaw, but finished with no success. Veteran mixed martial arts fighter Dan Henderson (at CSF in 1989-90) was choked out at 3:53 in the third round of the light-heavyweight match by Daniel Cormier (15-0). Henderson fell to 30-12.
Henderson, who has lost four of his last five, said he is not considering retirement, but may consider moving down a weight class to middleweight for the rest of his career.