UFC 177 Fight Breakdown: TJ Dillashaw vs Joe Soto

00Dillashaw The main event of UFC 177 is a five-round title fight between UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and Joe Soto. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Dillashaw is a -1500 favorite (bet $1500 to win $100) while Soto is a +700 underdog (bet $100 to win $700). MMA linesetter Nick Kalikas opened Dillashaw and Soto at +700 following the withdrawal by Barao and there hasn’t been much action on the fight so far. The line has remained close to the opener because it’s inflated, but Dillashaw is the champ and deserves to be the favorite, and I’m definitely picking him to win the fight. Dillashaw (10-2) won the UFC bantamweight championship this past May at UFC 173 with a fifth-round knockout of Barao after dominating the fight for the 22 minutes prior to that stoppage. He was a massive underdog going into the bout but he showed with his amazing performance that he is one of the best in the world. Only 28 years of age, Dillashaw has improved immensely since his stint back on TUF season 14. He’s gone 6-2 overall in the UFC since the show with wins over Barao, Mike Easton, Vaughan Lee, Issei Tamura, Hugo Viana and Walel Watson and the only losses coming to John Dodson and Raphael Assuncao. Many people thought he wasn’t deserving of the fight with Barao but he showed in the fight he absolutely was. While a few years ago Dillashaw was just a wrestler, now he is a complete mixed martial artist with amazing striking and a great submission game as well as tremendous cardio and that skillset alone makes him a dangerous out for anyone at 135lbs. He was set to fight Barao but at the last second the opponent was changed to Joe Soto. Given that Soto is another aggressive fighter, this certainly has the makings of a high-paced and action-packed fight, but given Dillashaw’s credentials and his momentum he opened as a massive favorite in the fight. Soto (15-2) is taking this title fight on just 24hrs notice. He was supposed to fight Anthony Birchak on the undercard but the UFC asked him to step up to fight Dillashaw when Barao pulled out and he accepted. It was a no-brainer for Soto to accept the challenge, but he is definitely stepping into a hostile situation as he’ll be taking on the champ in the champ’s backyard. Soto definitely is a game fighter, though, and I fully expect him to put on a good fight for as long as it lasts. Just 27 years of age, Soto has a wealth of experience from his time in Bellator (where he was the promotion’s first-ever featherweight champ) and Tachi Palace Fights and that should aid him in his cause in this fight. He is currently riding a six-fight win streak and has looked great overall since back-to-back losses to Joe Warren and Eddie Yagin in 2010-2011. He hasn’t been fighting top-level guys but he has finished all of his back six bouts which is very impressive. He’s a solid wrestler with good submissions and great finishing instincts. I think Soto could beat a lot of fighters in the UFC but he’s been given the toughest matchup possible here against Dillashaw. Who knows, maybe he can land the hail-mary punch. It’s possible. But it’s not likely, and that’s why he’s such a big dog. This is a really weird matchup given the circumstances. No doubt Dillashaw is the much superior fighter, but sometimes strange outcomes happen in MMA when fights are taken on such short notice. Examples of that would be Michael Chandler vs. Will Brooks, Rick Story vs. Charlie Brenneman, and Seth Petruzelli vs. Kimbo Slice. Those were fights that were booked on extra-short notice that resulted in gigantic upsets because the fighters weren’t properly prepared for that opponent. So it’s not out of the question, I think, that Soto somehow finds a way to win. But I think based on the matchup itself, Dillashaw is the better fighter and should win this, probably by TKO. That being said, the -1500 price tag is extreme and in my opinion has no value at all. If anything, Soto at +700 could be worth a small flier because he does have knockout power and who knows, maybe he can catch Dillashaw. The right thing to do in a situation like this is to just pick Dillashaw for your pool and pass on a bet. Focus on the other fights on the card instead.

Written by Adam Martin.

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