Dana White open to Dillashaw-Barao rematch, with Assuncao a possibility
MAY 25, 2014 4:18a ET
LAS VEGAS - If his health had cooperated, Raphael Assuncao would have been the man attempting to end Renan Barao's win streak and wrest the title from his grasp. Instead, he was watching from the stands in the MGM Grand Garden Arena as T.J. Dillashaw pulled off an all-time stunner, dismantling Barao before finishing him on strikes in the fifth.
The win was complete and decisive, likely leaving Assuncao with the belief that he'll get his chance next.
As it turns out, that's no automatic.
While acknowledging that Assuncao is the likely top contender now, UFC president Dana White could not rule out the possibility that he'd set up a rematch between Saturday night's UFC 173 headliners.
"I want to see both," White said. "I'd want to see this rematch. Hell yeah, I'd want to see it. I want to see which Barao shows up for the next fight. I think that's a great fight."
Prior to the fight, White had been vocal in his belief that Barao, riding a 33-fight unbeaten streak, was the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. There was little trace of that world-beater on Saturday, with Dillashaw out-landing him 169-68 and knocking him down twice before closing the show.
Before the fight, the question was whether Barao could ever become a marketable star. Now that he has a rival, it will be whether he's able to make adjustments in the wake of a one-sided defeat.
"We're all going to find out what Renan Barao's made of," White said. "Last time he lost, he didn't lose again for 35 fights. Let's see what he does after this loss."
Jones-Gustafsson II held up by contract extension talks
On Saturday night, ESPN reported that the anticipated rematch between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson II being targeted for Aug. 30, and that while Gustafsson had verbally agreed to the fight, the UFC had yet to secure Jones' agreement.
As it turns out, the reason is because the promotion is still in the process of hammering out a new deal with its light-heavyweight champion.
Jones, who has successfully defended the divisional title a record seven times, is currently on an international trip, though his representatives met with the UFC earlier this week.
Gustafsson just signed a new contract as well.
White also said that the Aug. 30 Las Vegas date is not the only option on the table, and that the belt could be contested at a show in Stockholm, Sweden later this year depending on the contract negotiation timetable.
"Anything's possible," he said. "We don't have a deal done yet."
Dan Henderson likely to move to middleweight
It was impossible to miss the size difference between Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier in the main event. Henderson has long fought some of the biggest and best in the world, once knocking out heavyweight great Fedor Emelianenko, for example, but those days of fighting up in weight may be over for him.
After a third-round submission loss to Daniel Cormier in the co-main event, Henderson said he wasn't ready to retire and admitted he would consider a drop down to 185.
The all-time great hasn't competed at middleweight since losing a Strikeforce championship match to Jake Shields over four years ago.
White supports the move.
"He'll do it," White said. "I think the thing with Henderson is, he's so damn tough but he doesn't like making the weight. I think that's always the problem with him. Obviously cutting to 185 would be a lot tougher for him but it would make a lot of sense."
White lauds Varner's heart, but conflicted on whether fight should've been stopped earlier
Jamie Varner barely had the opportunity to get started during his fight with James Krause before he was suddenly working while impaired. He severely injured his lower leg in the early seconds of the fight, and fell three times in the round without being touched. Still, he gutted it out, making it to the end of the first before he realized he could no longer continue.
Afterward, his camp said he had broken his foot, and White praised his courage in the moment, though he wondered whether it was right for both Varner's corner and the referee to allow him to continue.
"That's a tough one," he said, "but yes, if that was my guy, I would have thrown in the towel in a second."
Later in revisiting the topic, White noted that while Varner could have been protected from his own toughness, there was an argument to be made to let him dictate his own choice given that he had all of his mental faculties.
"That was a personal choice by Jamie," he said. "It was one of those tough ones. You could go either way with that. Yes, the ref should have stopped the fight. Oh my God, somebody should have thrown in the towel. Jamie should have quit. But he didn't."
Dillashaw-Faber not in the cards, new champ says
Dillashaw is leaving Las Vegas with a bull's eye on his back. The new champion is now in everyone's crosshairs. Well, maybe everyone but his Team Alpha Male camp mate Urijah Faber.
Faber is currently ranked as the top contender in the bantamweight division, and though he already has a fight scheduled with Alex Caceres, what happens if he wins? Does he turn down a title fight after chasing UFC gold for so long? Does he switch divisions?
Dillashaw told FOX Sports earlier this week that the two had not discussed any sort of plan and would cross that bridge when they reached out. They may have to start thinking about it now.
For his part, Dillashaw is not exactly hoping to fight Faber, but he didn't exactly slam the door on the possibility, either.
"You know, I don't plan on fighting Urijah. He's the one that got me into the sport. I've looked up to the guy ever since I've been into it. He helped me get to where I'm at.
It'd be like fighting your best friend. We go to the gym every day anyway, so I wouldn't like to fight the guy obviously."
But White? His stance on teammates fighting is well documented.
"I love it," he said. "We'll see what Urijah wants to do. You know how I feel about that. I've said it many, many times. Obviously in that weight class he's the champ. Urijah is one of the top contenders, so we'll see what Urijah wants to do."
Faber has failed in three tries at UFC gold, including in his most recent fight, losing to Barao via first-round TKO.