Several top stars thrived on Saturday’s UFC 173 card, but two of the mainstream names faltered under the pressure of the pay-per-view main card.
Not only did mixed martial arts legend Dan Henderson get utterly dismantled by Daniel Cormier at the PPV, but former bantamweight champion Renan Barao was also destroyed by underdog T.J. Dillashaw.
While Cormier and Dillashaw looked incredible, Henderson and Barao were thoroughly outclassed. Here are the fighters who struggled the most Saturday night.
In one of the most shocking moments in a long time, relative unknown T.J. Dillashaw dominated the main event and beat Renan Barao via TKO to walk out of the Octagon with the UFC Bantamweight Championship.
While losing the championship was a serious blow, Barao also lost his incredible winning streak that encompassed 32 victories dating back to May 2005. The loss would have been easier to swallow if he was winning at times in the fight, but Dillashaw dominated from bell to bell.
As Stuart Scott of ESPN shared on Twitter, no one saw this coming:
After the fight, Barao kept his comments short and sweet, telling Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com that “It was a really tough fight. I have to congratulate him. I'm coming back.”
It looks like Barao has revenge on his mind already.
Whether he gets an immediate rematch or has to beat another bantamweight to earn his way back into the title scene—a 32-fight winning streak should earn him an instant rematch—this could be the wakeup call the fighter needed.
Complacency is something that affects many fighters, and Barao has now been given another reason to work even harder. If he wants to regain his title, he will have to earn it against one of the toughest fighters in the sport.
Few fighters have made the impact on the sport that Dan Henderson has over his career, but at 43 years old (he’ll be 44 by his next bout), there is no doubt that the end of the road is near.
Daniel Cormier is one of the most promising talents in MMA, but Henderson used to be known as one of the best wrestlers in the sport. After being manhandled by Cormier on the ground, Henderson’s one biggest strength besides his toughness was nullified.
As WWE legend "Stone Cold" Steve Austin shared on Twitter, Cormier was able to beat a bona fide legend on Saturday night:
When Henderson can’t outwrestle someone, the fighter must take a long look at his time in the Octagon and make the decision on whether or not he wants to risk absorbing more long-term damage by continuing to fight.
Besides the knockout victory over Mauricio Rua in March (Rua looked like a shell of himself), Henderson has now lost four of his last five fights. While he may still be a PPV draw for Dana White and the UFC, the company must do what’s best for the fighter and encourage retirement.
Cormier proved that he was worthy of fighting for the light heavyweight championship, but he also proved that Henderson’s long and storied MMA career should come to an end sooner rather than later.
*Stats via UFC.com.
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