UFC 173 on Saturday night will go down as either one of the most surprising cards in recent UFC history or just another notch in the belt of two of the promotion's rising stars.
UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao will defend his title against TJ Dillashaw in a fight that most expect the 135-pound king to win.
In the co-feature, Daniel "DC" Cormier will face 43-year-old MMA legend Dan "Hendo" Henderson in a pivotal light heavyweight clash.
A win could vault one of the men into a title shot against Jon "Bones" Jones in the very near future.
Cormier is nine years younger than Henderson and has much faster hands. That would lead you to believe he'll handle the veteran on Saturday night. But you never know for sure until the two fighters are inside the cage.
Those two bouts headline a 12-fight card from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Here's a look at the entire fight card and start times for all three segments of the event.
|UFC 173 Fight Card and Start Times|
|UFC Fight Pass Prelims - Subscription Service||6:30 p.m. ET|
|David Michaud vs. Li Jingliang||Welterweight|
|Sam Sicilia vs. Aaron Phillips||Featherweight|
|Anthony Njokuani vs. Vinc Pichel||Lightweight|
|Fox Sports 1 Prelims||8 p.m. ET|
|Al Iaquinta vs. Mitch Clarke||Lightweight|
|Chris Holdsworth vs. Chico Camus||Bantamweight|
|Tony Ferguson vs. Katsunori Kikuno||Lightweight|
|Michael Chiesa vs. Francisco Trinaldo||Lightweight|
|Main Card - PPV||10 p.m. ET|
|Jamie Varner vs. James Krause||Lightweight|
|Takeya Mizugaki vs. Francisco Rivera||Bantamweight|
|Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger||Welterweight|
|Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson||Light Heavyweight|
|UFC bantamweight title (c) Renan Barao vs. TJ Dillashaw||Bantamweight|
Things to Watch For
A Battle of Deadly Strikers
Who's the better striker, Barao or Dillashaw? There's a good chance we're going to find out Saturday night. It seems as if Barao is hungry to prove the answer to that question is him.
He told Bleacher Report through a translator: "I believe T.J. [Dillashaw] thinks he is a striker now, and he isn't. I think he will mess up and make mistakes in this fight, and this will present the chance for me to finish him. I'm very calm and ready for this fight, and I believe I will win this fight because I'm the better fighter."
Statistically speaking, Dillashaw has more impressive numbers. Per FightMetric, he lands more strikes and at a higher percentage.
What must be remembered on that front is that while those numbers hold some validity, Dillashaw racked them up against the likes of Mike Easton, Hugo Viana and Vaughan Lee.
Barao has faced Urijah Faber twice, Eddie Wineland, Scott Jorgensen and Michael McDonald in his last five fights. There's an obvious difference in the quality of opponents there.
We'll see who proves it when it counts—in the cage and in the main event.
Will Cormier Stand or Take Henderson to the Ground?
With his wrestling skills and natural size advantage, Cormier could probably make his fight with Henderson pretty easy.
If he takes the veteran to the ground, he could possibly dominate him the way Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans did.
Because of Cormier's new fitness level, hand speed and aforementioned grappling prowess, he's become a very dangerous fighter.
Chael Sonnen took it to the next level with this quote, per UFC Canada:
Ol' Chael P. might a little premature with that statement as long as Jones is still champion, but Cormier is obviously a force to be reckoned with.
He'll likely beat Hendo in any case, but the route he takes will be interesting to see.
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