As noted, Joe Soto, who was scheduled to make his UFC debut against Anthony Birchak on the preliminary card of tonight’s UFC 177 pay-per-view, will instead challenge champion TJ Dillashaw for the UFC Bantamweight title in the new main event of the show.
The change occured when the original challenger, former champion Renan Barao, was forced to pull out of the fight on the day of the weigh-ins due to an accident that occured while cutting weight for the fight.
Soto spoke about what has been a crazy 24-hour period leading into his Octagon debut. “You’ve got to step up when you’ve got opportunities,” aid Soto. “And I was ready for that, thank God. I was in really good shape. I lost that [extra] pound in 15 minutes.”
“It’s surreal a little bit, but I’m a professional. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve got 17 fights, a lot of title fights. I’ve been in this position before,” said the co-headliner of tonight’s UFC 177 pay-per-view.
Soto concluded, “Not this crazy of a position. But a position when I first got into Bellator. They didn’t ever think I was going to win a title, and I did. So I’ve won titles when I was not expected to win.”
UFC 177 takes place tonight from the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. Make sure to visit MMANews.com for live, round-by-round results of the event.
UPDATE: Soto also spoke to UFC.com and explained how he was offered the title match and how he reacted to it.
“I was lying on the floor in my rest room naked, cooling off on the tiles, and a UFC number was calling me. I was like ‘man, what is this about?’ And they called me downstairs and asked me if I wanted the shot. And I said I’ll take it. Dillashaw’s tough, but I’m gonna go out there and give it my all. I actually trained with him not too long ago, and he’s good. He’s a champion and it’s going to be a tough fight. [Winning] would be a dream come true, that’s the only way I can explain it. It’s something that only God could have come up with. The last four years have been terrible. I know why now. It’s crazy, but it’s a great story to tell my grandkids, I tell you that.”