UFC lightweight star Joe Lauzon is hard at work to prepare for his Octagon return Sep. 5 but he took a break from training to sit down with Cagewriter editor Elias Cepeda to break down the main event and co-main event of this Saturday's UFC 177 card. In the main event, Renan Barao and champion TJ Dillashaw rematch their bantamweight title bout from last May.
In the co-main, Dillashaw's teammate Danny Castillo fights the red-hot Tony Ferguson. Check out Lauzon and Cepeda's picks and analysis below and then let us know who ya got, in the comments section!
Renan Barao vs. TJ Dillashaw
Elias Cepeda: I've already said it - I don't like this rematch. At least, not right now. into camp for the rematch, and there's no telling how much additional damage he's taken in camp.
A couple months ago, Dillashaw dominated Barao, and there was none of the uncertainty or controversy needed to justify an automatic rematch. Especially not when Raphael Assuncao is waiting in the wings, deserving of the next shot and already in posession of a win over Dillashaw.
More importantly, however, it isn't smart for Barao to take this or any fight so soon after getting beaten up badly. He simply did not have enough time to rest his concussed head before jumping back
That said, if Barao's team took this fight, I have to at least assume it is because they believe they have a different game plan that can work against Dillashaw. Here's hoping it involves timing Dillashaw's strikes and putting him on his back.
Like his teammate Jose Aldo, Barao has underrated take down ability. If he can get on top of Dillashaw, I think the dynamic of the fight can change dramatically.
Even though I don't believe he should be fighting again so soon, for the sake of his health, Barao is definitely a live dog in this fight because of his grappling ability and one-strike KO power. I'll go ahead and take the ex-champion via upset 3rd round TKO.
How do you have it, JL?
Joe Lauzon: I think the rematch between Barao and Dillashaw is going to be much like the last fight. As great as Barao is and has been, Dillashaw is just too fast.
Recently, I checked out gifs and highlight videos of their first fight and the speed advantage for Dillashaw was evident. At one point, Barao tried to throw rear kick and Dillashaw moved two feet to the side and then countered.
TJ is just so much faster that I think he's going to do a lot of what he did in their first fight. Also, I'm so surprised that Barao wanted to fight again so soon.
I mean, I get it, in a sense. I've been beat up pretty bad in fights before as well, and you want to get back in there as soon as possible to get that taste out of your mouth.
You're pissed and you want to get in there again quickly. But it isn't the smart thing to do.
You need to rest, recover and make adjustments. I'm picking Dillashaw to beat Barao again.
Tony Ferguson vs. Danny Castillo
Cepeda: Tony Ferguson is hard to bet against these days. The lightweight is 5-1 in the UFC and finished his last two fights impressively.
However, I like the intangibles in this fight in favor of Castillo. He's been in camp with the champ, TJ Dillashaw, and will be fighting in front of his home crowd.
No one really know what the seemingly volatile atmosphere at Team Alpha Male is these days, what with the fall-out but still partial live-in relationship between Urijah Faber and Duane "Bang" Ludwig, but I can bet there's still some high-level training and sparring going on there. And Castillo is no doubt taking advantage of that to sharpen up.
There's a lot on the line for Castillo and I think he's capable of rising to the ocassion and pulling off an upset by using his wrestling effectively and winning a decision. How do you see it, Joe?
Lauzon: I think Tony Ferguson is going to get it done. Castillo is a good fighter but he's very hot and cold.
Ferguson is good at finding ways to win and I think he has ways to do it against Castillo. If I had to go out on a limb, I think Ferguson will catch Castillo with punches and end it that way.
Alpha Male did really good for awhile but I don’t know how much "Bang" has been working with Castillo. There's obviously some kind of turmoil there, and that can't be good for training.
TJ is still alongside "Bang," but I don't know how much everybody else is working with him.