UFC 173 Preview

ufc_173In February Renan Barao would end his long march towards becoming the undisputed Bantamweight champion of the world. For two years he would sit at the top of the division with the interim Bantamweight title waiting for Dominick Cruz to get healthy. Setback after setback would plague the champion and Barao would continue to take out the top contenders in the division waiting for his shot at Cruz. Another setback in Cruz’s recovery would mean that yet another fight between the champion and the interim champion would be cancelled. The cancelled fight would mean the end of Cruz’s reign as the champion with Barao getting his chance to earn the undisputed championship. He would take on the #2 fighter in the division with Urijah Faber getting a rematch against Barao this time for the undisputed championship. The fight would go Barao’s way as he would finally get the belt that he had been working towards since 2012. Now he begins his reign as the UFC champion while Dominick Cruz continues to recover and starts his way back to a chance to earn his title back. Barao will defend his belt for the first time as the undisputed champion and in his first defence he will look to take out another member of Team Alpha Male. The fight team based out of Sacramento, California is widely known as one of the best teams to produce lighter weight fighters. The team is led by Urijah Faber who has held belts in every promotion he has been a part of except the UFC. Faber would also be the fighter that Barao would beat to earn the interim Bantamweight title and the undisputed Bantamweight title. Although Faber has yet to beat Barao in a title fight he remains at the top of the fighter rankings simply because he beats everyone else. With his title aspirations on hold for a time after losing twice to Barao his teammate will take up the quest to bring a belt to Sacramento. The man stepping in for Team Alpha Male will be #4 ranked TJ Dillashaw who will get his first title shot. After losing in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 14 Dillashaw would rattle off four straight wins, finishing three of them. The After a loss to Raphael Assuncao, Dillashaw would get back on track beating Mike Easton in his last fight. Now with the majority of the top 5 fighters having already had their chance against Barao, Dillashaw becomes the next man up. The fight will pit two fighters who love to fight on the mat but both have a very different ways of doing that. Barao is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner who would prefer to go for submissions when he is on the mat. Although he has a very good stand up game with devastating kicks if he does go to the ground he will be looking to submit his opponent while on his back and on top. Meanwhile TJ Dillashaw is a wrestler and like many wrestlers he prefers to use his strength in the striking game while on the mat. Dillashaw is an old school wrestler turned MMA fighter as he has the ability to take fights to the ground but when there starts the ground and pound rather than look for submissions. Both fighters have a different style on the mat and this fight may very well end up there in a matchup of two different thought of how to fight on the mat. In the end one style will come out on top and one fighter will take home the gold. Thanks to his well-rounded game Barao seems like the safe option in this fight as Dillashaw is just too unproven to show that he can beat Barao. It will be another win for Barao as he will take the title home with a submission win in the third round.

As the Bantamweights take the limelight with the main event a big matchup in the light heavyweight division will highlight the rest of the card. With Glover Teixeira taking his shot at the title and a fight between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson just waiting for a date the rest of the division is looking to put themselves in a good spot when the title is determined. That is exactly what Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier will be looking to do at UFC 173. There are a number fighters trying to get a chance at the title after Gustafsson and Jones have their rematch. Henderson and Cormier are two of those fighters as both sit among the top 10 in the light heavyweight division. For Cormier it is the title shot would be the accomplishment of what everyone expected from him when he came over from Strikeforce. He was supposed to be the next great challenger to the heavyweight title but after dropping a weight class he has made his way to the #4 spot in the light heavyweight division. For Dan Henderson a title shot would be just the latest chance to get the one belt that he doesn’t have in his collection. Henderson has had multiple title fights in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions but has yet to win a UFC title. A number of recent losses seemed to see Henderson on his way out but a win in his last fight against Mauricio Rua has put him right back into the fight as the #6 fighter in the division. As these two fighters face off they will be looking for a big win on their record in the hopes that it will launch them into the title conversation. The fight will be a good one two as it matches two very similar athletes against each other. Both fighters were members of the US wrestling team in the Olympics, although at different times. Both would make the transition to MMA and would do it like a lot of wrestlers in both of them becoming very good stand up fighters. They both have that wrestling ability and the ground and pound as well which makes for an interesting matchup where they will fight strength against strength.

 

Fight Card

Main Event:
Renan “The Baron” Barao vs. TJ Dillashaw [Bantamweight Championship] (Pay-per-View)

Main Card:
Daniel “DC” Cormier vs. Dan “Hendo” Henderson (Pay-per-View)

“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler vs. Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger (Pay-per-View)

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Francisco “Cisco” Rivera (Pay-per-View)

Jamie Varner vs. “The” James Krause (Pay-per-View)

Undercard:
Michael “Maverick” Chiesa vs. Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson vs. Katsunori Kikuno (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Chris “Holds it Down” Holdsworth vs. Chico “The King” Camus (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

“Raging” Al Iaquinta vs. Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani vs. Vinc “From Hell” Pichel (UFC Fight Pass)

Sam Sicilia vs. Aaron “The Model” Phillips (UFC Fight Pass)

David “BullDawg” Michaud vs. Li “The Leech” Jingliang (UFC Fight Pass)

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