SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A half-hour after the weigh-ins for UFC 177, T.J. Dillashaw was still angry at Renan Barao.
Dillashaw will defend his bantamweight title against former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Soto on Saturday night in the main event at Sleep Train Arena, a development which came down Friday afternoon. Barao, who was supposed to meet Dillashaw in a rematch of their UFC 173 encounter, was hospitalized after a weight cut gone awry.
The champion wasn't in the mood to cut Barao any slack, as he believes Barao simply does not want to fight him.
"He hasn't missed weight at any of his fights," Dillashaw told reporters backstage after the weigh-ins. "It's more like I mentally broke him and he doesn't want to fight me. I think the coaches wanted the fight more than he did. He should have done this a couple weeks ago, not today."
Dillashaw isn't thrilled about having to fight Soto, an occasional training partner - while casual fans might roll their eyes at Soto's name, he's 15-2 and a tough out for anyone - he said that when presented with the option, he wanted to prove the fans he's going to be a fighting champion.
"I don't want to be a diva champion," Dillashaw said. "I'm the champion of the world, I'm going to fight whoever the UFC puts in front of me. I just want to prove everyone that I'm here to fight and I'm here to do my job. ... I could have [said no to Soto], but I don't want to be that guy. I want to be the hero and save the day."
Barao's fallout marks the first weigh-in day incident for a title fighter since Travis Lutter missed weight for his planned middleweight title fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 67.
UFC president Dana White, meanwhile said not to expect Barao to get another title shot any time soon. Barao was said to have had a terrible weight cut leading up to the UFC 173 title loss.
The bottom line, as far as White is concerned, is that Nova Uniao, Barao's camp, needs to hire a better nutritionist, or Barao needs to go up to 145.
"I see it as, first of all, you got enough money to get a real nutritionist to go in there and watch what you're eating. The guy's gotta go in there and do it the right way or don't cut weight, move up to 45. Don't cut weight. It's part of the sport, things are going to happen. Sucks when it does but it happens. ... He won't get a title fight after this."
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