Barao vs. Dillashaw: A Complete Guide to Full UFC 173 Card

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterMay 19, 2014

Barao vs. Dillashaw: A Complete Guide to Full UFC 173 Card

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    UFC bantamweight champ Renan Barao
    UFC bantamweight champ Renan BaraoTIM LARSEN/Associated Press

    UFC 173 goes down Saturday from fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. In the main event, Renan Barao—one of the best fighters and maybe the least-known champion on the UFC roster—defends his bantamweight title against a worthy challenger in T.J. Dillashaw.

    In the co-main event, light heavyweight Daniel Cormier fights for a shot at champ Jon Jones against grizzled veteran Dan Henderson.

    There is plenty of intrigue all across the card, however, and we're here to get you acquainted with all of it. These are information capsules, predictions and viewing coordinates for each and every bout on the UFC 173 card. Read on and read up.

David Michaud vs. Li Jingliang

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    Division: Welterweight

    Records: David Michaud (7-0), Li Jingliang (8-2)

    See it on: UFC Fight Pass (subscription required)

    When Danny Mitchell stepped out, Michaud stepped in to face Jingliang. You may recall Michaud from Season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter, though he did not make it past the opening round.

    The South Dakotan is well-rounded, whereas Jingliang is a submission specialist. The Chinese fighter appears to be the UFC's latest attempt to find a viable fighter from that country. Since it has yet to do so, I'll stick with the American in the UFC debut for both men.

    Prediction: Michaud, TKO, Rd. 1

Sam Sicilia vs. Aaron Phillips

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    Sam Siclia (left)
    Sam Siclia (left)USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Featherweight

    Records: Sam Sicilia (12-4), Aaron Phillips (5-0)

    See it on: UFC Fight Pass (subscription required)

    Sicilia welcomes a fellow hard-hitting featherweight to the Octagon in Phillips. Though the 24-year-old is undefeated with three stoppage wins, he is a relatively unheralded prospect. Experience will win the day here.

    Prediction: Sicilia, TKO, Rd. 2

Anthony Njokuani vs. Vinc Pichel

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    Anthony Njokuani
    Anthony NjokuaniUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight

    Records: Anthony Njokuani (16-7), Vinc Pichel (8-1)

    See it on: UFC Fight Pass (subscription required)

    Njokuani has some of the best muay thai in the lightweight division, and he should be able to put it on display against Pichel, who is not afraid to come forward and swing leather. Look for a slugfest here, with Njokuani's more finely tuned striking outscoring Pichel from the perimeter.

    Prediction: Njokuani, unanimous decision

Al Iaquinta vs. Mitch Clarke

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    Mitch Clarke
    Mitch ClarkeUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight

    Records: Al Iaquinta (8-2-1), Mitch Clarke (10-2)

    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    The most compelling thing about Clarke was his tearful post-victory celebration last year. It endeared him to plenty of viewers, which is more than you can say about his clinch-heavy approach to fighting.

    Iaquinta, a heavy-handed wrestler, is more of a crowd pleaser. The New Yorker should be larger and outmuscle Clarke for the win.

    Prediction: Iaquinta, unanimous decision

Chris Holdsworth vs. Chico Camus

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    Chico Camus
    Chico CamusUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Bantamweight

    Records: Chris Holdsworth (5-0), Chico Camus (14-4)

    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Holdsworth showed plenty of potential in winning TUF 18. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt was supposed to be a grappling specialist, but he displayed some impressive striking acumen, too. He should be able to pass a stern but doable test in Camus, a skilled fighter with a brawler mentality. Holdsworth will get back to his jiu-jitsu roots and begin his climb up the ladder in earnest.

    Prediction: Holdsworth, unanimous decision

Tony Ferguson vs. Katsunori Kikuno

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    Tony Ferguson
    Tony FergusonUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight

    Records: Tony Ferguson (14-3), Katsunori Kikuno (22-5-2)

    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    This one is not going anywhere near the ground.

    The big right hand is always a good weapon for Ferguson, the TUF 13 winner. He will want to establish range early and fire off straight punches. Kikuno is new to the UFC but well-known to longtime fight fans; his kickboxing and submissions can be electric.

    But Japanese fighters haven't proved to be adept at making "the leap" of late. Despite his lengthy resume, this is Kikuno's first fight outside of Asia, and a decision win over Quinn Mulhern in his UFC debut isn't enough to convince me he's up to this challenge.

    This one might stalemate at times, but Ferguson will get enough done to cruise to the W.

    Prediction: Ferguson, unanimous decision

Michael Chiesa vs. Francisco Trinaldo

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    Michael Chiesa
    Michael ChiesaUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight

    Records: Michael Chiesa (10-1), Francisco Trinaldo (14-3)

    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Lots of TUF standouts on this card. Chiesa won the 15th season and appears here on the prelim main event.

    He'll have his hands full with a southpaw striker in Trinaldo. The Brazilian likes to throw strikes in bunches and is dangerous when he gets a head of steam. 

    Chiesa is mainly a ground fighter, with the choke being his weapon of choice. But Trinaldo is no slouch on the grappling front and won't charge into any mistakes. He will keep this one standing and score the mild upset.

    Prediction: Trinaldo, TKO, Rd. 2 

Jamie Varner vs. James Krause

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    Jamie Varner (right) fights Abel Trujillo.
    Jamie Varner (right) fights Abel Trujillo.USA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight

    Records: Jamie Varner (21-9-1), James Krause (20-5)

    See it on: Pay-per-view

    After losing two straight, the good will from Varner's unlikely professional redemption may not save him if he can't get it done against Krause. Krause is well-rounded and a tough out; however, Varner may be able to lean on his wrestling control game to eke out a sludgefest and maintain UFC employment.

    Prediction: Varner, unanimous decision

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Francisco Rivera

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    Francisco Rivera
    Francisco RiveraUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Bantamweight 

    Records: Takeya Mizugaki (19-7-2), Francisco Rivera (10-2)

    See it on: Pay-per-view

    After alternating wins and losses for 10 straight contests, Mizugaki has now ripped off four straight, thanks in large part to a much-improved boxing game.

    The streak will end against Rivera. This will be an exciting stand-up battle, and Rivera will show why he's the most powerful striker in his division and a contender for the title.

    Prediction: Rivera, TKO, Rd. 2

Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger

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    Robbie Lawler
    Robbie LawlerUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Welterweight

    Records: Robbie Lawler (22-10), Jake Ellenberger (29-7)

    See it on: Pay-per-view

    Did someone say exciting stand-up battle? Because here goes this one, too.

    Though it is tempting on paper to say that Ellenberger might use his wrestling to gain an advantage, I don't see it actually playing out that way. As with Lawler's fight against Johny Hendricks, this will go down inside a phone booth.

    Lawler is extremely dangerous and is better than he's ever been, but Ellenberger is pretty good, too. He'll use good movement and some of his own big power to mark Lawler up, put that stinker against Rory MacDonald behind him and remind everyone that he's still a man to be reckoned with.

    Prediction: Ellenberger, unanimous decision

Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson

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    Daniel Cormier
    Daniel CormierUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Light heavyweight

    Records: Daniel Cormier (14-0), Dan Henderson (30-11)

    See it on: Pay-per-view

    Though this one has good name recognition, it will not be a close or exciting fight.

    Cormier will use his prodigious strength to mash Old Man Hendo up against the chain link and hold him there, landing clinch knees and such along the way but essentially riding the veteran to an easy decision. Jon Jones, you're next.

    Prediction: Cormier, unanimous decision

Renan Barao vs. T.J. Dillashaw

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    Renan Barao
    Renan BaraoUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Bantamweight (for UFC title)

    Records: Renan Barao (32-1), T.J. Dillashaw (9-2)

    See it on: Pay-per-view

    Every close observer has deep respect for Team Alpha Male and its stable of fighters. Everyone sees the strides they've taken under muay thai coach Duane Ludwig. Everyone knows that Dillashaw is a dangerous foe with the wrestling and the diverse striking arsenal to put just about anyone away.

    Unfortunately, all those truths are overruled by the fact that Barao is one of the very best fighters alive. He's the Michael Jordan to Team Alpha Male's Utah Jazz. He'll use his surgical muay thai and amazing takedown defense to protect his belt again . And another Alpha Male bites the dust.

    Prediction: Barao, unanimous decision 


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