UFC 173: T.J. Dillashaw stuns Renan Barao
According to GMA, T.J. Dillashaw was such an underdog going into his UFC 173 main event against bantamweight champion Renan Barao, he was more or less an afterthought during fight week.
But everyone who left the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) will remember him. And so will Barao.
In one of the most stunning upsets in mixed martial arts history, Dillashaw dominated Barao for the better part of five rounds before getting the TKO at 3:06 of the final frame.
Dillashaw’s victory ended Barao’s 32-fight win streak dating back to 2005 and gave Dillashaw’s gym, Team Alpha Male, its elusive UFC championship after several attempts.
“I’ve dreamed this for so long,” Dillashaw (10-2) said. “All you have to do is believe, man. Barao’s the best in the world in my eyes, he’s the best in the world. That’s what brought it out in me.”
Dillashaw nearly finished the bout in the first round. He almost knocked Barao out with a right hand, swarmed him on the ground, and then nearly won with a rear-naked choke.
Barao (32-2, one no-contest) survived. But the butt-kicking was on. Dillashaw took it to the champ in a relentless manner, likely breaking Barao’s nose in the process. The finish came with a flurry similar to the one late in the first.
Barao made no excuses for his loss.
“It was really a tough fight,” Barao said through an interpreter. “I congratulate him. It was his fight tonight, but I’m coming back.”
In the co-feature bout, Daniel Cormier made the battle of former Olympic wrestlers with Dan Henderson a rout.
While many of the fans in the arena made the trip from Southern California to see whether Henderson, a 43-year-old decorated former champion, could pull off one last big victory, Cormier spoiled the party. He out-wrestled Henderson at will, the highlight of which was a spectacular slam that sent Henderson about seven feet in the air before making impact.
Henderson (30-12) tried to go the distance, but Cormier was too much, as he won the fight via rear-naked choke with 1:54 remaining in the final round.
After the fight, Cormier (15-0) called out current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
“Jon Jones, you can’t run from me forever,” Cormier said. “No matter where you run to, I’m coming. I know I can out-wrestle anyone; it doesn’t matter. I can take down Jon Jones 100 times; it don’t matter. It’s my Octagon.”
“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler made a statement in a key welterweight showdown against Nebraska’s Jake Ellenberger.
Just eight weeks ago, Lawler lost a narrow decision to Johny Hendricks in a bout to fill the vacant welterweight title in what is considered the early front-runner for fight of the year.
But Lawler got back into the thick of things and earned a knockout of the heavy-hitting Ellenberger. The Iowa native picked Ellenberger (29-8) apart before taking him out with a final flurry at 3:06 of the third round.
Lawler (23-10, one no-contest) won for the fourth time in his past five fights.
In a match featuring a pair of featherweights with solid momentum, Japan’s Takeya Mizugaki won his fifth straight fight and ended Francisco Rivera’s five-fight win streak in the process.
In the opening round, Mizugaki dropped Rivera, who is from Buena Park, Calif., with a right hand, but he couldn’t quite put him away. In the second, Rivera (10-3) bloodied Mizugaki and got him into a choke hold, but he likewise couldn’t seal the deal. Mizugaki (20-7-2) regained control in the third, scoring an early takedown and holding him there most of the round to seal the win.
Mizugaki took a unanimous decision on scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27.
The main card at the MGM kicked off with a bizarrely contested lightweight fight. Former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Jamie Varner appeared to suffer a broken ankle early in his fight with Missouri’s James Krause. But Varner (21-10-1, two NC), of Phoenix, attempted to gut his way through the round. Thrice, Varner lost his footing and hit the mat attempting to throw punches.
While referee Jason Herzog didn’t seem to think anything was wrong, the cageside doctor called an immediate halt to the fight, giving Krause the victory via injury TKO.
“You never want to see an opponent get hurt out there, but I especially didn’t want to see Varner get injured,” said Krause (21-5), winner of nine of his past 10. “I’m a big fan and I looked up to him.”