On Saturday, May 24, the UFC hosted UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

In the night’s main event, the promotion’s bantamweight title was on the line as champion Renan Barao defended his title against T.J. Dillashaw. The Brazilian Barao rode a gaudy 33-fight unbeaten streak that dated back to 2005 into the contest. In February, the Nova Uniao product dispatched of Urijah Faber at UFC 169. Dillashaw, meanwhile, had gone 5-2 inside the Octagon prior to the title affair. The Team Alpha Male fighter was the runner-up on The Ultimate Fighter 14 and most recently edged Mike Easton at UFC Fight Night 35 in January.

Also on the main card, unbeaten wrestling stalwart Daniel Cormier looked to move one step closer to a light heavyweight title shot when he battled former Strikeforce and Pride champion Dan Henderson. Cormier starched Patrick Cummins in his 205-pound debut in February, while Henderson moved back into title talk in March with a TKO of former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

Rounding out the pay-per-view card were welterweights Robbie Lawler and Jake Ellenberger, bantamweights Takeya Mizugaki and Francisco Rivera, and lightweights James Krause and Jamie Varner.

The 12-fight card kicked off Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET with three fights streaming on UFC Fight Pass. Four additional bouts followed on Fox Sports 1 on at 8 p.m. ET, with the main card beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

T.J. Dillashaw shocked the MMA world and became the first Team Alpha Male fighter to earn UFC gold, stopping Renan Barao in the fifth round. Dillashaw looked loose from the beginning. Throughout the first four rounds he looked like a hybrid of Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz. Dillashaw’s striking was on point with amazing footwork and head movement. Dillashaw first tagged the champion with an uppercut and then ended up dropping Barao late in the first with an overhand right that shook the MGM Grand. Barao survived, but the challenger let him know he was in for a tough night. Dillashaw continued his dominance on the feet throughout the next couple of rounds. Dillashaw had moments where he got cocky and Barao tagged him, but the American was never in major danger. Dillashaw began to throw in head kicks to mix it up and kept Barao guessing. The head kick played a big role in the finish of the fight. Dillashaw landed a head kick and followed it up with a blitz of strikes and this time was able to finish the fight and officially call himself champion.

Daniel Cormier bulldozed the legendary Dan Henderson to possibly earn a future light heavyweight title shot. Cormier used his world-class wrestling to dominate Hendo. Cormier was very aware of the power of Henderson and he did a good job of avoiding the right hand. Cormier then went to his bread and butter and landed a huge throw to get the fight to the ground. Cormier stayed on top for the rest of the round and peppered Henderson with punches and elbows. The second round was more of the same. Cormier used a front kick to get Henderson on his heels before slamming him once again. Henderson did all he could to get back to his feet, but Cormier showed amazing positional control. DC continued to impose his will in the final five minutes. He worked to a dominate position and when Henderson tried to buck, he advanced the position further, knocked in a rear-naked choke and choked Henderson unconscious.

Robbie Lawler outclassed Jake Ellenberger for two rounds before dropping the hammer and getting the finish in the third. Lawler came out with kicks early. He landed two head kicks that were partially blocked, but they clearly pushed Ellenberger back. For the second fight in a row Ellenberger was very tentative with his striking game. Lawler continued his success on the feet for the rest of the first and majority of the second. Ellenberger finally had some successful moments late in the third. He landed two takedowns, but Lawler stayed very active and got back to his feet. Ellenberger’s corner told him he had to go for broke in the third and he came out much more aggressive. Ellenberger hurt Lawler with a right hand early in the final round, but he wasn’t able to take advantage of it. Ellenberger went back into a tentative shell and seemed to be favoring the right hand that he tagged Lawler with. Lawler saw blood in the water and went in for the kill. He landed a big knee and Ellenberger wilted. Lawler followed up with a few punches and Herb Dean stopped the fight.

Takeya Mizugaki extended his winning streak to five by ending the streak of Fransisco Rivera in a bantamweight contenders’ bout. Mizugaki came out aggressively as usual. Early on he dropped Rivera with a combination. It looked like the fight might be over right there, but Rivera survived. He was on his back for a bit, but he was able to get back to his feet and make a fight of it by the end of the round. In the second Rivera looked a lot more comfortable early and landed some solid punches and ended up opening a cut near Mizugaki’s eye. Rivera’s fatal mistake in the second came when he sold out on a submission attempt while Mizugaki was shooting in on a takedown. Mizugaki spent the rest of the round in top control and even got Rivera’s back. Mizugaki was in ground control for the majority of the third as well. Rivera swung for the fences and made it a brawl in the final seconds, but it was too little too late.

James Krause picked up a bittersweet win over a tough-as-nails Jamie Varner to start off the main card. Krause went for it early. He tagged Varner with jabs and a front kick to the face that put Varner on wobbly legs. Those wobbly legs and a leg kick contributed to what would ultimately be the end of the fight. Varner rolled his left ankle numerous times and it was clear that something had went wrong. Varner did score a takedown, but he was reversed rather easily. Krause let Varner stand back up, but the former WEC champion could put no weight on his front leg. Krause kicked that leg a few more times and at the end of the round Varner informed the referee that he thought his ankle was broken and the fight was called off.

Michael Chiesa took Fransisco Trinaldo to task and continued his winning ways and close out the Fox Sports 1 coverage for the night. Chiesa escaped a few tough positions and put on one of the best performances of his career. The adversity started early for “The Maverick.” He ate a knee to the body early in the first round that clearly had him hurt. Chiesa stayed composed and took the fight into his world when he dragged Trinaldo to the ground. Chiesa landed elbow after elbow for the rest of the first round. The second round was even bigger for Chiesa. He escaped when Trinaldo went all in on a guillotine choke and eventually advanced to mount and just pounded the Brazilian with punches and elbows. Chiesa stayed with the same game plan in the third. He had to avoid an arm bar in the late stages, but he finished out the fight on top.

Tony Ferguson picked apart Katsunori Kikuno on the feet before landing the knockout blow late in round one. Ferguson was not put off by Kikuno’s odd style. Ferguson actually took advantage of the little head movement and straight up and down stance. Ferguson was able to consistently land a stiff left jab. Kikuno came back and landed some heavy shots of his own, but Ferguson kept moving forward. Ferguson even went for a rolling leg lock and d’arce choke at points, but the fight ultimately ended on the feet. After having Kikuno rocked for a good few minutes, Ferguson landed a right hook that sent Kikuno’s head smashing to the floor and the fight was over.

Chris Holdsworth stayed unbeaten in his young career with a solid performance against Chico Camus. Holdsworth didn’t do anything spectacular or flashy, but he flat out dominated this one. Camus put Holdsworth on notice right from the get go by tagging him with a straight right. That seemed to wake Holdsworth up as it was all business from there on out. He used his reach advantage to hit Camus while staying out of range. By the end of the fight Holdsworth had landed more than one hundred strikes than his opponent, but the majority of those strikes took place on the ground. Holdsworth took Camus down and advanced position numerous times. Holdsworth had the full mount in both the second and third round. He searched for an arm triangle choke, but Camus used the perfect defense throughout. The Team Alpha Male fighter wasn’t able to finish the Milwaukee product, but when the final bell sounded it was clear who the winner was.

Mitch Clarke scored a shocking submission win over Al Iaquinta to kick off the televised portion of the prelims. Clarke was rocked early by an Iaquinta right hand. The Canadian spent the rest of the first round on his back and eating huge punches from the New Yorker. Iaquinta went right back to his takedowns early in the second. He scored the takedown and looked to pass the guard. When he went to pass the guard Clarke sneaked in a d’arce choke and Iaquinta was out cold in short order.

Vinc Pichel bullied Anthony Njokuani all the way to a unanimous decision victory. The MMA gods weren’t on Njokuani’s side from the beginning. He took a poke to the eye and a knee to the groin in the first round. After those two inadvertent fouls Pichel took Njokauni down nine times over the course of the fight. Pichel scored numerous big slams and just ragdolled his foe. Njokauni was almost finished by strikes in the second and by choke in the third, but he was game and survived until the final bell.

Sam Sicilia stifled Aaron Phillips for three rounds to get back on the winning track. Phillips had some early success getting in and out with striking from the outside. The success didn’t last long though. Sicilia saw where he could have the advantage and took the fight to the ground. The majority of the final two rounds took place there and Sicilia was able to score with punches and avoid submissions to get the win and rebound from his recent loss to Cole Miller.

Jingliang Li picked up a split decision win over David Michaud to kick off the action. Li came back after a rough first round to fairly clearly win the final two. Michaud came out winging hooks and caught Li a few times. He displayed great takedown defense early in the round and even slammed Li at one point. Late in the round Li took Michaud down. Michaud seemed to grimace in pain and never really recovered fully. Li used great striking to win the second round. The fight was up for grabs in the third and Michaud won the early part of the frame. Li was taken down, but he reversed it about halfway through and landed some solid punches and elbows to leave the lasting impression for the judges.

FULL RESULTS
T.J. Dillashaw def. Renan Barao by TKO (strikes). Round 5, 2:26 – for bantamweight title
Daniel Cormier def. Dan Henderson by technical submission (rear-naked choke). Round 3, 3:53
Robbie Lawler def. Jake Ellenberger by TKO (strikes). Round 3, 3:06
Takeya Mizugaki def. Francisco Rivera by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
James Krause def. Jamie Varner by TKO (ankle injury). Round 1, 5:00
Michael Chiesa def. Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Tony Ferguson def. Katsunori Kikuno by TKO (punch). Round 1, 4:06
Chris Holdsworth def. Chico Camus by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Mitch Clarke def. Al Iaquinta by technical submission (d’arce choke). Round 2, 0:57
Vinc Pichel def. Anthony Njokuani by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Sam Sicilia def. Aaron Phillips by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Jingliang Li def. David Michaud by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.