Upset in Vegas (UFC 173 Review)

MMA: UFC 173-Renan Barao vs. TJ DillashawWhen the Bantamweight title fight was announced for UFC 173 a lot of people were wondering how the matchup could be made. Here was one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world defending his belt against a fighter with a 5-2 record. Renan Barao was undefeated for 9 full years and his opponent had only joined the UFC in 2011 and had a 1-1 record in his last two fights. TJ Dillashaw was ranked #4 in the division and there were plenty of other options including Raphael Assuncao or Michael McDonald that seemed to be better matches for Barao. It was fully expected that Dillashaw was going to come in and get beat up by the man many consider to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Dillashaw and his teammates at Team Alpha Male thought differently believing that he was ready for this shot. The team from Sacramento had constantly been improving and have now put plenty of fighters among the top of the lighter weight divisions. Still they had yet to bring home a championship and for them TJ Dillashaw was the man to do this. His development had been great and his relationship with their striking coach Duane Ludwig had shown an improvement in his striking. Still Dillashaw had never really beat any of the top contenders in the Bantamweight division as he had stayed among the middle of the pack. His second loss in his career would come against his first fight against a top contender in the division in Raphael Assuncao. The #2 ranked fighter in the division would beat Dillashaw with a split decision as it seemed the Dillashaw was close but just not ready for that top talent in the division. He had clearly been improving with every fight and was getting to the point where a title shot was in the works but he had shown that the top fighters in the division were just slightly better. Still he would remain among the top 5 in the division and was one win against another top 5 fighter away from getting his title shot in the eyes of most. Dillashaw would recover from that fight by beating Mike Easton with a Unanimous Decision. It was not the fight that many had expected to see as it was not a top fighter in the division. He would still earn the win and many would respect that top contender fight afterwards where Dillashaw would be able to fight someone for the right to fight for the title. The UFC had different plans though as his fight against Easton would be enough to earn Dillashaw the chance to fight the most dominant fighter in the UFC. With a winning streak that would stretch for 9 straight years Barao was a matchup that not many wanted to see but for Dillashaw it became the chance to prove that he belonged. The title shot was one that a lot of people would say that Dillashaw did not deserve the shot as he had yet to beat any top contenders. For Dillashaw and his supporters this was the chance to show that he did belong and that this title shot was well deserved. The matchup was an interesting one though as both fighters were great on the mat, Dillashaw was a wrestler and Barao a BJJ practitioner. Still they had the ability to stand and trade as well with Barao looking to have the advantage in the striking game but Dillashaw always improving. From the start of the fight the improvements in Dillashaw’s stand up were shown immediately as the usually dominant Barao was on the other side of a losing battle. In the first round Dillashaw would knock Barao down and almost finish the fight. The tone was set for the rest of the fight as Dillashaw would continue to win the striking game staying on his toes and always moving. It was clear that Dillashaw was the faster fighter while Barao seemed sluggish and slow and unable to match the speed of the challenger. As the fight moved on Dillashaw continued to stay active and would punish the champion who seemed to be losing his gas tank. The fight would come to an end in the fifth round when Dillashaw would finish Barao and put his stamp on a dominant fight. The fight was a convincing win for Dillashaw who dominated the fighter that many considered to be the best in the world. The loss for Barao would be his first in 9 years but it may not eliminate him from the title conversation as a rematch is not out of the question. Meanwhile Dillashaw will now take the title and look to begin a reign as the champion with plenty of people waiting for a shot.

The main event would feature some of the lighter fighters in the division but the heavier fighters would take the centre stage in the co-main event. Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson would face off in what many had considered a top contender fight for the Light Heavyweight Division. Both fighters had put together plenty of wins against top fighters in the division and were looking for another big win to try to get the title shot they had been looking for since they entered the UFC. For Henderson it was a chance to get another title shot in the UFC after fighting for the championship in multiple divisions. For Daniel Cormier it was a chance to fight for the title for the first time since he entered the UFC. It was also a chance for Cormier to continue a long undefeated streak that has spanned since he started in MMA. With the streak on the line and a potential title shot Cormier was looking to add Henderson to his long list of defeated opponents. Henderson was simply trying to extend his long career a little longer and make another run at the title to get the one title he is missing in his trophy case. It was a seemingly even matchup as the two fighters may have been from different generations but both were members of the US wrestling team that converted to heavy punchers in MMA. When the fight started it was clear that the potential of an even fight had gone out the door. Instead it was Daniel Cormier dominating every aspect of the fight. He would take the fight to the ground at will and continue to overwhelm Henderson. Eventually it would get too much for Henderson to handle as Cormier would take Henderson’s back and end the fight with a rear naked choke. The loss for Henderson likely means the end of a run at Light Heavyweight as he may return to fighting in the middleweight division. Cormier would earn the win and is sure to move up the rankings and may very well earn a fight against the winner of Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson later this year.

 

Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
The night would end with a massive upset and the upset would mark the first time that Renan Barao would be beaten and knocked out and that would earn TJ Dillashaw an extra bonus for knocking out best pound for pound fighter in the world

Performance of the Night
The undercard would also provide some great finishes with Mitch Clarke standing out among the rest with his D’Arce Choke win over Al Iaquinta that would earn him an extra $50,000 fr the performance of the night

Fight of the Night
The upset of TJ Dillashaw beating Renan Barao was a massive end to the fight card and the fight itself was a good one that would help both fighters earn a bit more and earning the Fight of the Night bonus

 

Fight Results

Main Event:
TJ Dillashaw def. Renan “The Baron” Barao [Bantamweight Title]
(TKO; Rd. 5)

Main Card:
Daniel “DC” Cormier def. Dan “Hendo” Henderson
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 3)

“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler def. Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger
(TKO; Rd. 3)

Takeya Mizugaki def. Francisco “Cisco” Rivera
(Unanimous Decision)

“The” James Krause def. Jamie “C-4” Varner
(TKO; Doctor’s Stoppage, Rd. 1)

Undercard:
Michael “Maverick” Chiesa def. Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo
(Unanimous Decision)

Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson def. Katsunori Kikuno
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Chris “Holds it Down” Holdsworth def. Chico “The King” Camus
(Unanimous Decision)

Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke def. “Ragin” Al Iaquinta
(Submission; D’Arce Choke, Rd. 2)

Vinc “From Hell” Pichel def. Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani
(Unanimous Decision)

Sam Sicilia def. Aaron “The Model” Philips
(Unanimous Decision)

Jianling “The Leech” Li def. David Michaud
(Split Decision)

 

Upcoming Events

UFC Fight Night 41: Munoz vs. Mousasi (Saturday May 31st; 3:00 pm ET)
Berlin, Germany (O2 World Arena)
Main Event: Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi
Notable: Francis “Limitless” Carmont vs. CB “The Doberman” Dolloway
Notable: Luke “The Bigslow” Barnatt vs. Sean “Tarzan” Strickland

TUF Brazil III Finale (Saturday May 31st; 10:00 pm ET)
Sao Paulo, Brazil (Ibirapuera Gymnasium)
Main Event: Stipe Miocic vs. Fabio Maldonado
Notable: TUF Brazil III Middleweight Final [Matchup TBD]
Notable: TUF Brazil III Light Heavyweight Final [Matchup TBD]

UFC Fight Night 42: Henderson vs. Khabilov (Saturday June 7th; 10:00 pm ET)
Albuquerque, New Mexico (Tingley Coliseum)
Main Event: Benson “Smooth” Henderson vs. Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov
Notable: Diego “The Dream” Sanchez vs. Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson
Notable: John “The Magician” Dodson vs. John Moraga

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