UFC 173 will feature Renan Barao, one of the best fighters in all of UFC, and TJ Dillashaw, an up-and-comer ready to compete against Barao for the bantamweight title.
As with any fight, there are some key strategies that each competitor will need to execute in order to win. This rings true mostly for Dillashaw, as Barao is clearly the better fighter. Barao does nearly everything pretty well, whereas Dillashaw has obvious flaws in his game. He also has never fought on a pay-per-view main card event before, so the big stage might get the best of the young fighter.
Getting familiar with each fighter's keys to victory is a great way to learn about the fight before the opening bell rings. As soon as that happens, there will be nonstop action.
Dillashaw Must Dictate the Pace of the Fight
Barao is a great counterstriker who is always looking for a knockout finish. If Dillashaw allows Barao to dictate the pace of the fight, he won't stand a chance. He needs to come out strong from the beginning, with an energy that's difficult for Barao to match.
It already looks as if Dillashaw is ready to get started, per his personal Twitter account:
Awesome to see my face all over the MGM casino. Saturday can't come soon enough. http://t.co/Ehns5AQvOn— TJ Dillashaw (@TJDillashaw) May 21, 2014
He has never fought in a five-round PPV match before. That said, Dillashaw has found success in the past pushing the tempo and staying active on the offensive. By dictating the pace, he will potentially be able to tire Barao out and get him on the ground.
A fantastic wrestler, Dillashaw is at a clear advantage on the mat. Even though Barao is a decent wrestler, he won't be able to keep up if the two hit the ground.
Barao Must Avoid A Wrestling Match
Barao has never been taken down in UFC, a stretch that currently spans 19 rounds. He is tough when initial contact is made and is a difficult guy to even knock off balance. That said, this is the lone area of the match where Dillashaw has the advantage.
If Dillashaw gets in his comfort zone on the mat, he'll be able to rack up early points and control the tempo of the fight. Barao will need to be strong on his fight to avoid this. Should he get taken down for the first time in his UFC career, he'll have to show off his grappling skills in an effort to break free of the superior wrestler.
Getting Barao in this position will be crucial for Dillashaw. The champion has never been in that position before. Who knows how he'll react.
Barao Must Keep Focused Amidst Dillashaw's Frantic Movements
Dillashaw loves to move when in the cage. Once the opening bell rings, he's off. He bounces around and moves his feet for the entirety of the match. Rarely will you find him standing still. He even moves around in his corner in between rounds.
There are rare occasions where Dillashaw stops bouncing in order to deliver combination strikes. This is where Barao will have to capitalize. He'll have to do his best to stay focused on the moving target while also doing his best to hit Dillashaw when he's planted on the mat.
If Barao becomes tantalized by Dillashaw, then he'll be left open to Dillashaw's ability to strike. Even against the best fighters, all it takes is one punishing blow to end the fight.