Saturday's UFC 173 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was not only a shockingly great card, but a lesson in the unpredictable nature of the sport and what is to come.
The night's main event saw TJ Dillashaw rip the bantamweight title from Renan Barao, which proved to be but one critical decision on a night that wound up telling many stories about the present and future of the proceedings in the Octagon.
Let's take a look at that classic bout and two others at UFC 173 that are notable in a variety of facets.
Daniel Cormier Knocks off Dan Henderson
Perhaps it's time for Dan Henderson to ponder his future.
When the cage door to the Octagon closed, the former Olympian was thrown around like a rag doll by another past Olympian to decide who remains in the hunt for the lightweight title.
Daniel Cormier has now hit a 15-0 mark and looks every bit of a title contender at 35 years of age. Cormier applied consistent pressure and eventually won on a rear-naked choke in the third round to cement a victory more brutal than anyone has ever handed Henderson.
It's a clear sign that the two fighters are headed in very different directions. Henderson, surely to non-approval from fans, intends to keep his career alive, as recorded by MMAFighting.com:
That's a questionable decision, to say the least, but nobody can blame Cormier for calling out Jon Jones, per Mike Chiappetta of Fox Sports:
No matter where you go boy, I'm coming. You better hurry because I'm getting better.
I know nobody can wrestle me. It doesn't matter. If I decide to take Jon Jones down 100 times, I'll take him down 100 times. This is my octagon.
Cormier joins a short list of those worthy of the title shot, and tossing around a past juggernaut on Saturday sure does not hurt his chances.
Robbie Lawler Downs Jake Ellenberger
Remember when Jake Ellenberger was a top threat?
Just a few years ago, Ellenberger was tearing through the likes of Jake Shields and had the look of the next big thing. On Saturday, Ellenberger looked like the subject of a Space Jam-esque victim, because he had clearly forgotten how to fight as Robbie Lawler dominated every second of their encounter.
"Ruthless" was just that over the course of the entire bout, peppering the former superstar with an onslaught of strikes that resulted in a total strikes advantage of 72-30 before the fight was called in the third round.
It's clear Lawler will not get a title shot right away, but his dominance in a way nobody could have predicted on Saturday jump-starts his path back to contention. For Ellenberger, it is time to go back to the drawing board and rediscover something, anything that will make him competitive again.
TJ Dillashaw Jaw-Dropping Triumph over Renan Barao
It had to happen at some point, but few thought Dillashaw would be the one to do it.
Barao entered Saturday night as a winner of more than 30 straight, dating back to 2005, and a name many considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
So much for that.
Barao was nearly knocked out in the first round via a barrage from Dillashaw, regained composure and was fully destroyed every step of the way before his eventual knockout in the final round.
For Dillashaw, it's a coming-of-age moment and one he will forever cherish, as captured by the UFC:
UFC fans around the globe just witnessed a passing of the torch. A rematch is surely on the table with Barao still one of the sport's best, but it is important to recognize the arrival of a new champ and face of the sport as he begins his journey.
Note: All info courtesy of the UFC's official website unless otherwise specified.
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