Victory never tastes so sweet. Article by Adam LeBarr/image via Zuffa LLC/Getty Images, video via UFConFox
You know those lackluster UFC events that people pay for, and then rant a rave because they're not happy with their purchase (due to "boring" fights)? Tonight, with what's being posted on all social networks and media websites, I can almost guarantee there's more people wishing they got the UFC 173 PPV fight card.
May 24th, in Las Vegas, Nevada, UFC history was made. What was one of the most stacked fight cards of 2014, it certainly wouldn't disappointing. The card was impressive, from top to bottom, filled with nothing but talent.
The first two fights of the PPV fight card; James Krause vs. Jamie Varner and Takeya Mizugaki vs. Francisco Rivera. Both were high energy and exciting, also a little disappointing and sad. The good: Mizugaki vs. Rivera was a high energy fight. Though Mizugaki dominated most of the fight, Rivera held on, taking the fight to a decision where Takeya Mizugaki was announced victorious. The bad: Mid-way through round #1 of his fight, Varner sustained an injury to his ankle. It got to the point he would collapse to the mat, after giving all he had to give. He fought all the way to the bell, but announced to his corner he injured (possibly broke) his ankle, and the fight was stopped there.
Robbie Lawler, after his upsetting loss to Johny Hendricks, made it his mission to remain active, work hard, and be back in the octagon ASAP (as soon as possible (you should know this)). Welcoming him back, after only a short period of time was Jake Ellenberger, ranked #4 inside the welterweight division and looked at to be a future champion.
Early in the fight, Lawler quickly let Ellenberger know he's not wasting anytime. He would proceed to throw hard hitting head kicks, as well as a list of other strikes. After easily dominating the first 2 rounds, it was the third and final round Lawler would put Ellenberger to the mat, where he would finish him by way to TKO (technical knockout).
Does a huge, dominant performance over Ellenberger put Lawler back in line for a title shot once Hendricks is healed up and ready to fight? If not that, we can only assume it's Lawler vs. the winner of Woodley/MacDonald.
Your co-main event of the evening, Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson was a completely lop-sided fight, in favor of the former Heavyweight, Cormier.
Throughout round 1, 2 and 3, Cormier was literally picking Henderson up, and tossing him to the mat as he pleased. Out of just under a 14 minute fight, Cormier dominated on the mat for 11+ minutes. Nearing the end of the 3rd round, in a crazy scramble, Cormier was successfully able to sink in a rear naked choke, putting Henderson to sleep.
It was told that winner of Cormier/Henderson gets a title shot against winner of Jones/Gustafsson. We the fans of waited long enough, Cormier is finally getting his shot.
Your main-event of the evening, Renan Barao, the man Dana White (president of the UFC) thinks is the top P4P (pound for pound) fighter in the world was set to defend his bantamweight championship against TJ Dillashaw, ranked #4 in the division and a 8-1 underdog.
TJ Dillashaw put on one of the greatest performances the UFC octagon has witnessed to date, in tonight's main-event title fight against Renan Barao. Throughout the fight with, Dillashaw displayed incredible speed, striking accuracy and endurance. Early in round #1, he rocked Barao, putting him to the mat where he had him hurt, but couldn't quite finish him. After that, it was pure domination and deviation, in favor of the challenger, Dillashaw. After completely outclassing Barao for 4 rounds, most would think to just take it easy, take the fight to decision and take the easy win. TJ Dillashaw, as proven tonight, isn't about to let that happen. Closing in on the final minute of round #5, Dillashaw opened up with a flurry of strikes, after landing a huge head kick. Barao would fall to the mat, attempt to defend himself, but it wasn't enough...
The ref (Herb Dean) stepped in, pulling Dillashaw away from the now former champion, solidifying the championship win for the "underdog".
TJ Dillashaw is the first man out of Team Alpha Male to win a championship title. Post-fight, he shared the octagon with fellow training partners, Faber, Benavidez and striking coach "BANG" Ludwig, where tears would shed.
Main card (PPV):
T.J. Dillashaw def. Renan Barao via fifth-round TKO
Daniel Cormier def. Dan Henderson via submission (rear-naked choke)
Robbie Lawler def. Jake Ellenberger via third-round TKO
Takeya Mizugaki def. Francisco Rivera via unanimous decision
James Krause def. Jamie Varner via first-round TKO (injury)
Michael Chiesa def. Francisco Trinaldo via unanimous decision
Tony Ferguson def. Katsunori Kikuno via first-round TKO
Chris Holdsworth def. Chico Camus via unanimous decision
Mitch Clarke def. Al Iaquinta via submission
Vinc Pichel def. Anthony Njokuani via unanimous decision
Sam Sicilia def. Aaron Phillips via unanimous decision
Li JingLiang def. David Michaud via split decision
Fight of the Night: TJ Dollashaw vs. Renan Barao
Performance of the Night: TJ Dillashaw and Mitch Clark