SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Bantamweight challenger Renan Barao has withdrawn from a scheduled championship rematch against T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 177 on Saturday night after experiencing medical issues during a weight cut on Friday.
Promotional newcomer Joe Soto (15-2) has agreed to replace Barao and will now fight Dillashaw (10-2) for the UFC 135-pound title. The bout will still headline the pay-per-view event, which takes place at Sleep Train Arena. UFC officials confirmed the switch to ESPN.
Barao (32-2), who relinquished the belt to Dillashaw following a TKO loss in May, was ruled physically unable to compete after he grew ill during his cut and was taken to the hospital.
"He was cutting weight and he fainted," UFC president Dana White said. "They got freaked out and they did the right thing. They called an ambulance to come get him.
"You've got enough money to get a real nutritionist in there to watch what you're eating. Guys have to start doing this the right way or don't cut weight. Move up to 145 (pounds). But it's part of the sport, things like this are going to happen."
According to sources, a catchweight bout was not considered due to safety concerns for the Brazilian fighter.
Soto, a former Bellator MMA 145-pound champion, was scheduled to make his UFC debut against Anthony Birchak on the UFC 177 preliminary card. The bout between Soto and Birchak was the only other bantamweight fight scheduled on the event.
The 27-year-old will enter the championship bout on a six-fight win streak. He has recorded 13 finishes in his career, including five knockouts.
Dillashaw's head trainer, Duane Ludwig, told ESPN.com shortly before Friday's weigh-in he was in the midst of gathering film on Soto to prepare for the late switch.
Dillashaw won the title at UFC 173 in Las Vegas as a heavy underdog. He dropped Barao with a right hand in the first round and nearly submitted him via rear-naked choke shortly after. He finished the championship bout in the fifth round.