UFC 173: 5 Reasons to Watch

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2014

UFC 173: 5 Reasons to Watch

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    UFC 173 marks the UFC's return to pay-per-view this weekend. Headlined by the bantamweight championship of the world, the card boasts a deep lineup that is sure to entertain.

    Renan Barao looks to continue his reign of dominance as he defends his title against TJ Dillashaw. It marks the second title fight in a row that Team Alpha Male fights for Barao's strap.

    Also on the card are Robbie Lawler, Jake Ellenberger, Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson. 

    Need a reason to pony up the dough Saturday night? We'll give you five right now.

Title Bout

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    Whenever a UFC title is up for grabs, it's a reason to order the pay-per-view.

    This fight is no exception, especially considering Renan Barao is becoming one of the best and most exciting champions in the company. He hasn't lost in years and has been dominant against pretty much everybody he has faced in the UFC.

    TJ Dillashaw represents the underdog here. The power-punching wrestler has earned a spot in the top 10 at 135 and has beaten some tough, credible opponents. He is certainly a worthy challenger here.

    One thing is certain: This is going to be a fun fight. Renan Barao is always exciting and will bring the best out of Dillashaw.

Road Back to the Title Picture

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    The UFC welterweight title picture is pretty sketchy right now. Many guys are in the title picture—such as Hector Lombard, Dong Hyun Kim, Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley—but there's really no definitive top contender.

    Robbie Lawler and Jake Ellenberger have a chance to further muddy the waters.

    Lawler, who just gave champion Johny Hendricks a tough fight, meets Ellenberger, a guy who could easily be in contention, in what could be an amazing fight. Both men punch extremely hard, and both men are true veterans of the cage.

    The winner of this fight could easily talk his way into a top contender's bout, assuming the title picture clears up a little bit in the near future.

    Don't blink. Somebody could be knocked unconscious at any time in this fight.

Passing of the Guard

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    Dan Henderson is in his 40s. Sit back and think about that for a second. In most sports, athletes don't make it anywhere near 40 at the highest level. Henderson has done it in a sport that is extremely taxing on the body.

    Henderson is a representative of the old guard. Daniel Cormier, his current opponent, is a rep of the new breed. That's why we might see a changing of the guard on Saturday

    Henderson has slowed in his last few fights despite the fact he blasted Mauricio Rua in his last fight. That is the result of years of hard fights and fighting at the top level.

    Cormier has been an unstoppable force since entering the sport. A win for him would be a metaphorical changing of the guard that could propel Cormier into a potential title shot.

Fight of the Night Favorite

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    What do you get when you cross power and precision? Usually, a fight that has fans thoroughly entertained.

    That's what you'll get in Francisco Rivera-Takeya Mizugaki. Rivera is all about throwing the fastball, while Mizugaki prefers to razzle you with his changeup.

    This fight has "Fight of the Night" written all over it. Mizugaki and Rivera are rarely in boring fights, so combining them has all the makings of a classic bout.

    Don't blink. These guys are quick and powerful and will be looking to finish each other.

TUF Winners Galore

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    The Fox Sports 1 undercard has four fights, three of which possess a recent Ultimate Fighter winner. That means the undercard is pretty stacked.

    TUF 13 winner Tony Ferguson returns for just the second time in two years. Injuries have slowed him down, but he was able to choke out Mike Rio in his long-awaited return. He now takes on Katsunori Kikuno, a Japanese striker who will complement his style.

    TUF 15 winner Michael Chiesa makes his fifth appearance and is currently 3-1 with the company. Other than a discrepancy against Jorge Masvidal, Chiesa has choked out everybody he has beaten, including fellow TUF winner Colton Smith. Chiesa will fight fellow TUFer Francisco Trinaldo in a battle of strong grapplers.

    Lastly, TUF 18 winner Chris Holdsworth makes his sophomore effort in the UFC when he takes on Chico Camus. He has the ability to be a star with the company in due time, as he has all finishes via submission on his record.

    It will be interesting to see how they do. They are all solid competitors with staying power.