SACRAMENTO - T.J. Dillashaw didn't get much sleep Thursday night after learning he would fight Renan Barao for the Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight title at UFC 173.
"I just couldn't sleep at all, everything was going through my head about how things are going to change," Dillashaw told News10. "In my mind, I am going to be the new UFC champion of the world."
Dillashaw (9-2, 5-2) will face Barao (32-1, 7-0) as the main event on May 24 at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The Barao-Dillashaw bout replaces the original main event between middleweight champion Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machia after Weidman had to postpone the fight because of an injury.
The championship fight will be another opportunity for a member of Team Alpha Male to bring the elusive UFC championship belt back to Sacramento. Urijah Faber lost to Barao twice (UFC 149, UFC 169) and Dominick Cruz (UFC 132) for the bantamweight title. Chad Mendes suffered his only defeat to featherweight champion Jose Aldo (UFC 142). And Joseph Benavidez lost two flyweight title bouts to Demetrious Johnson (UFC 152, UFC on Fox 2013).
Now, it is Dillashaw's turn to represent the team.
"I get chills being the one who has a chance to bring that belt back to Sacramento and Team Alpha Male," Dillashaw said.
Dillashaw not only wants to represent his team and city, but also his head coach Duane Ludwig who will corner his fight.
Last week, Team Alpha Male leader Faber and Ludwig decided to part ways after a successful 2013 in the UFC. Ludwig, who plans to start a gym in his home state of Colorado, will continue to serve as head coach through the end of May, making Dillashaw's championship bout his farewell fight with the team.
"Duane is my coach," Dillashaw said. "And it works out perfect that he is going to be able to leave with a title under his belt."
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