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Grudge Match: Coaches predict Dillashaw vs. Barao II


UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw humiliated Renan Barao when they first met, but does the Brazilian have what it takes to get the belt back?

Firas Zahabi

Head coach at Tristar MMA

"On the ground, I believe whoever’s on top will have the advantage in this fight. If TJ takes the fight to the ground, then Barao has the ability to scramble up to his feet or maybe get a sweep. Despite being a black belt we rarely see him on his back. I believe the guy on the bottom will either get up or get controlled.

"If Barao is on top he’ll have the edge and, likewise, if Dillashaw is on top he will have the edge. They’re both seasoned grapplers, the difference being Barao’s background is jiu-jitsu and TJ’s background is wrestling. If this was a jiu-jitsu match then Barao all day, but it’s not, it's MMA and across the board Dillashaw has proven he's got a little more in other areas already."

Winner: TJ Dillashaw


Mike Winkeljohn

Head striking coach at Jackson-Wink MMA

"What I noticed during their first fight was Dillashaw’s footwork, and that he was in the right place at the right time. It was ingenious because he was the leader and he will continue to be the leader unless Barao adds more feints and fakes to his game. He’ll need to cut him off next to the cage so he can use his strength against him. However, if he doesn’t it’ll go a lot like the first fight.

"The importance of being the leader during a fight can’t be overestimated because you’re wearing small gloves, so there are so many different opportunities compared to all the other sports. If you can be unpredictable and you can make people react to you then the world is your oyster when you want to strike.

"Barao needs to improve his game planning. He needs to know how to shut down rather than wait and react. He has to keep Dillashaw from making him react to what he does, so he can slowly move into range. That way he can strike how he wants to strike and move the fight to where he can get a takedown.

"It's a little thing, but putting the percentages of an advantageous position on your side rather than the other guy’s side is imperative."

Winner: TJ Dillashaw


Jamie Franco

Wrestling coach at Longo-Weidman MMA

"Neither of them really give up takedowns but Barao over-committed when trying to defend Dillashaw’s shots last time. He bit on a lot of the fakes and that’s how Dillashaw landed a lot of his punches. It’ll be interesting to see whether Dillashaw switches up his game plan to wrestle more or if Barao allows him to get in on his legs so the fight can go to the ground. But Barao couldn’t really catch Dillashaw.

"That one big punch Dillashaw landed in the first round was really the deciding factor. He really had Barao hurt for the rest of the fight and I’m not sure if we saw the real Barao after that. It will be interesting to see how Barao approaches this one.

"Dillashaw was way too fast for him and he couldn’t get his hands on him. So it’ll be interesting to see if Barao attempts to take Dillashaw down and use his jiu-jitsu. Barao needs to work on his speed, cut the cage off and get to Dillashaw. Dillashaw was in and out, circling, and Barao couldn’t get his range. Every time he tried to attack, Dillashaw was gone.

"But Dillashaw likes to jump in and out of range and there’s an opportunity there. He lands really heavy on his front foot when he’s jumping in and out, so if Barao and his team can work on timing that then they could get a takedown pretty easily.

"If Barao doesn’t get hit, it’s a totally different fight. I don’t quite know how Barao is going to be able to close the distance, and in the first fight TJ was just too quick for him. But whoever lands the punches wins this fight, and Dillashaw has a game plan to beat Barao already."

Winner: TJ Dillashaw

Read predictions from top coaches on the biggest upcoming fights in 'Grudge Match' every edition inside Fighters Only magazine.