This past weekend we witnessed what many consider to be one of the biggest upsets in UFC history as T.J. Dillashaw became the new UFC bantamweight champion. The Team Alpha Male member put in a dominant performance against Renan Barao, scoring a TKO in the fifth round.
Dillashaw beamed with confidence from the offset and managed to drop Barao in the very first round with a shot that many fighters wouldn’t have returned from. The Brazilian managed to survive the knockdown, but just didn’t look the same from that point on. T.J.’s pace never slowed and his cardio was impressive, this is what allowed him to remain dominant going into the championship rounds.
Striking was the key to T.J.’s victory, and once again we got to see how much of a positive effect Duane “Bang” Ludwig’s coaching has had on the 28-year-old’s stand-up. Dillashaw displayed some great footwork and used angles to pick Barao apart. By regularly switching stances he was able to make life difficult for Renan and control the fight.
Dillashaw was clearly overwhelmed with joy following the match-up. In a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan he said “I’ve dreamed it for so long. It’s unbelievable man, it’s the greatest feeling in the world and all you have to do is believe baby, believe you are the best in the world and you will get here.”
Renan Barao kept it simple following the fight saying “It was really a tough fight, I have to congratulate him. Tonight was his night, but I’m coming back.”
In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier looked impressive against Dan Henderson, picking up a third round submission victory. Cormier dominated Henderson like we have never seen before, using his strength and wrestling to physically control the fight. In the third round DC was able to secure a rear-naked choke and finish one of the toughest guys in the sport. In my opinion, Daniel has proved that he deserves a title shot, but he will have to wait and see what happens in the rematch between current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson to get an idea of when that shot will be possible.
Elsewhere on the card, Robbie Lawler bounced back from his loss to Johny Hendricks in March by securing a third round TKO win over Jake Ellenberger. Following that performance I think it is safe to say that Lawler is deserving of a rematch against Hendricks. Ellenberger, who is now on a two fight losing skid, looked lethargic and unable to get anything going in the fight. He desperately needs to get back into the win column in his next fight as three straight losses could see him cut from the promotion.
Meanwhile, Japanese fighter Takeya Mizugaki managed to secure a unanimous decision victory over Francisco Rivera, and James Krause defeated Jamie Varner via TKO following an injury to Varner’s foot. Fight night bonuses went to T.J. Dillashaw, Renan Barao and Mitch Clarke. Barao and Dillashaw each earned $50k for “Fight of the Night”, Dillashaw earned a second $50k bonus for “Performance of the Night”, and Clarke earned a performance bonus for his second round submission win over Al Iaquinta on the preliminary card.
The full results for UFC 173 are below:
- T.J. Dillashaw def. Renan Barao via TKO (strikes) – Rnd 5, 2:22
- Daniel Cormier def. Dan Henderson via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 3:53
- Robbie Lawler def. Jake Ellenberger via TKO (strikes) – Rnd 3, 3:06
- Takeya Mizugaki def. Francisco Rivera via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- James Krause def. Jamie Varner via TKO (injury) – Rnd 1, 5:00
- Michael Chiesa def. Francisco Trinaldo via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
- Tony Ferguson def. Katsunori Kikuno via TKO (punch) – Rnd 1, 4:06
- Chris Holdsworth def. Chico Camus via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Mitch Clarke def. Al Iaquinta via submission (D’Arce choke) – Rnd 2, 4:57
- Vinc Pichel def. Anthony Njokuani via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Sam Sicilia def. Aaron Phillips via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Jingliang Li def. David Michaud via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Image credit: theofficialmmanation.com