Barao vs. Dillashaw II: A Complete Guide to UFC 177

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterAugust 25, 2014

Barao vs. Dillashaw II: A Complete Guide to UFC 177

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    T.J. Dillashaw
    T.J. DillashawUSA TODAY Sports

    Hello. Come in, I'm glad you came. Sit down. Can I get you something to drink? Coffee, distilled water, perhaps something stronger, Nos Active, whiskey?

    Great, that's great. But let's get down to brass tacks now. I called you in today because I want to level with you. I want to be honest. You do appreciate honesty, don't you? Honest discussions. They make the world go around, in my opinion.

    Today's honest discussion is about UFC 177. That's right, the one going on this Saturday in Sacramento. 

    Well, now that you mention it, no, there will be no rematch between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. They scuttled that. Nope, no Demetrious Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso, either. They moved that to UFC 178. I know, I've seen those ads, too. They just haven't replaced the old, outdated version. I'm not sure why.

    There is still a title fight on the docket. It's a rematch of Renan Barao and T.J. Dillashaw for the bantamweight belt. Dillashaw knocked him out in their first match. That was three months ago. 

    Here's the bottom line: I'm not saying don't order UFC 177. I'm not saying don't watch it, I'm not saying don't enjoy it. I'm just saying don't expect it to be something that it's not, and what it's not is a top-quality fight card. You have a right to understand that. And you know what else? You don't have to watch this, if you don't want to.

    Be gimlet-eyed on this one. That's all I'm suggesting. Sometimes in life, you can make chicken salad out of chicken, you know, leavings. And sometimes you just end up eating leavings.

    I'm glad we had this talk. Of course, now there will be five knockouts and five submissions and everyone will come back here and tell me we never should have had this talk. But that won't change the fact that this pay-per-view card held a notable lack of elite-ness. And you have a right to know that. I'm a public serviceman, after all. A warrior for the truth, if I may. And I wouldn't be doing my part if I didn't inform you of the options.

    To help you make an even more informed decision, here is a full guide to the 10-fight slate, including information capsules, predictions and viewing coordinates for each and every bout. Thanks again for coming in. 

Chris Wade vs. Cain Carrizosa

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    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Chris Wade (7-1), Cain Carrizosa (6-0)
    See it on: UFC Fight Pass (subscription required)

    Wade got the call to make his UFC debut just two weeks ago. That would normally be a disadvantage, but Cain (no, not the awesome Cain) got the call even more recently and doesn't have a UFC fight on his record, either.

    A wrestler who trains with veterans Ryan LaFlare and Dennis Bermudez, Wade is a grinder first. Carrizosa is more prone to the finish, but those proclivities might be buried along the chain link. It's hard to move Wade anywhere he doesn't want to go, and that should be the story Saturday.

    Prediction: Wade, unanimous decision

Joe Soto vs. Anthony Birchak

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    Division: Bantamweight
    Records: Joe Soto (15-2), Anthony Birchak (11-1)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    I was surprised to learn neither of these men has fought in the UFC before. I was sure at least one of them had. In any case, in this instance the two have certainly earned a shot.

    Especially Soto, the former Bellator featherweight and Tachi Palace Fights bantamweight champion. Soto once bested current UFC standout Wilson Reis and has only lost to Joe Warren and Eddie Yagin. He has great takedowns, good grappling and tight standup.

    Birchak is a former champ himself, in the MFC promotion. His aggressive submission game nets him most (six) of his wins. Sometimes he's a little too aggressive, though. If that and his adrenaline get the better of him, Soto will, too.

    Prediction: Soto, unanimous decision

Ruan Potts vs. Anthony Hamilton

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    Anthony Hamilton
    Anthony HamiltonUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Heavyweight
    Records: Ruan Potts (8-1), Anthony Hamilton (12-3)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Here's another one of your classic heavyweight lumbering-dude fights. Give me Hamilton in this one.

    Why? Because I'm not giving Potts any benefit of any doubt, not after he was somehow out-grappled by Soa Palelei his last time out. 

    Ergo, I'm going with the Jackson-Winkeljohn product with the formidable knockout power. He'll be looking to bring Potts down before his lungs start to bark on him. Lumbers gonna lumber.

    Prediction: Hamilton, TKO, Round 2

Scott Jorgensen vs. Henry Cejudo

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    Scott Jorgensen
    Scott JorgensenUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Flyweight
    Records: Scott Jorgensen (15-9), Henry Cejudo (6-0)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    Cejudo is actually the slight betting favorite here at the moment. I just don't see it.

    The Olympic gold-medal wrestler has all the talent in the world, but he's being thrown to a real wolf here in Jorgensen. In a straight wrestling match, I'll take Cejudo 10 times out of 10. Throw in the possibility of getting punched in the face, and the equation rebalances a bit.

    For all his promise, the 27-year-old Cejudo seems to drift, both in and out of the cage. He hasn't faced great competition thus far, but despite that fact he hasn't made his wins look easy.

    The odds might be different if Jorgensen wasn't on such a down streak. He's 1-2 at flyweight and 2-5 in his last seven. In fairness, though, those fights have come against guys like Renan Barao, Urijah Faber and Jussier Formiga, among other notables.

    Cejudo doesn't seem ready for that brand of opposition. Jorgensen seems perpetually ready. Here's guessing Jorgensen catches Cejudo with his foot off the gas and delivers something the Olympian is in no mood to receive.

    Prediction: Jorgensen, TKO, Round 1

Lorenz Larkin vs. Derek Brunson

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    Derek Brunson
    Derek BrunsonUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Middleweight
    Records: Lorenz Larkin (14-3), Derek Brunson (11-3)
    See it on: Fox Sports 1

    The Fox Sports 1 "main event" is, for my money, just as good as or better than anything the pay-per-view undercard has to offer.

    It's easy to forget that Brunson, a heavy hitter and excellent wrestler, was on his way to beating Yoel Romero when Romero literally cracked his jaw for the comeback TKO. 

    Larkin is a talented kickboxer who, after losing two straight, might be facing a must-win situation.

    Brunson should be able to control "The Monsoon" with takedowns and clinch work. I imagine the game plan this time will be conservative but successful.

    Prediction: Brunson, unanimous decision 

Yancy Medeiros vs. Damon Jackson

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    Yancy Medeiros
    Yancy MedeirosUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Yancy Medeiros (9-2-1), Damon Jackson (9-0)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    Despite the late replacement of Jackson for Justin Edwards, for now it appears this fight will remain as the pay-per-view opener, though don't be surprised if they shuffle the card sometime this week.

    Jackson gets points for his nickname, "The Leech," which is kind of awesome. He's also the Legacy FC featherweight champion and a well-practiced ground technician, as the nickname suggests. Leonard Garcia learned the hard way not to underestimate this guy when Jackson upended him to take the LFC belt.

    Still, it's very late notice, and he'll come in smaller than Medeiros, the aggressive striker and Gracie jiu-jitsu fighter still trying to live down that November pot suspension. Medeiros will eventually land something big and heavy on Jackson after powering out of a few compromising mat positions.

    Prediction: Medeiros, TKO, Round 2

Ramsey Nijem vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira

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    Carlos Diego Ferreira
    Carlos Diego FerreiraUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Ramsey Nijem (9-4), Carlos Diego Ferreira (10-0)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    It's never clear which Nijem is going to show up. The affable runner-up from Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter is capable of a lot, both good and bad.

    Like a lot of fighters on this card, Nijem's game pivots off a wrestling base. Ferreira's a jiu-jitsu standout, so these two might neutralize each other on the ground. On the feet, both men are basically brawlers, so it could be a fun scrap if things stay vertical. Ferreira is a little quicker and more agile, and thus should have the edge.

    Prediction: Ferreira, unanimous decision

Bethe Correia vs. Shayna Baszler

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    Bethe Correia
    Bethe CorreiaUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Women's bantamweight
    Records: Bethe Correia (8-0), Shayna Baszler (15-8)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    From the standpoint of pure heat, this might be the card's most intriguing fight. After beating Jessamyn Duke at UFC 172, Correia now-famously called out the rest of Duke's posse, aka The Four Horsewomen. The Horsewomen are honchoed by one Ronda Rousey, so it's a pretty ambitious play.

    Like the plot swing of an '80s action movie, Baszler dutifully stepped up to defend the honor of the Horsewomen and take the bogey out. A few months later, here we are.

    Would that Correia's game in the cage matched her moxie on the microphone. Her bout with Duke was a sludgy affair, predicated on Correia's inside work and clinch game. 

    Though a Correia win would add more life to an already fun story, the larger Baszler should take this. She's beaten a lot of women in her day, and she shouldn't suffer the kind of letdown in her UFC debut proper that she did in her upset loss on TUF

    Prediction: Baszler, unanimous decision

Danny Castillo vs. Tony Ferguson

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    Tony Ferguson
    Tony FergusonUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Lightweight
    Records: Danny Castillo (17-6), Tony Ferguson (15-3)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    Don't castigate these two. Castillo vs. Ferguson is like the Raiders drafting Darrius Heyward-Bey seventh overall. It's not these guys' fault they fell into good fortune, no matter how wrong-headed the actual decision might seem.

    With that said, yes, this is an odd co-main event, in that it doesn't contain immediate contenders or even wide divisional implications. (To demonstrate, neither man is ranked in the UFC's official top 15 for lightweights.)

    Now, remember what I said at the beginning. You don't HAVE to watch this event. 

    But if you do, this could be a nice fight, even if it doesn't rise to headliner status. Ferguson is ultra-aggressive in both striking and wrestling, and his takedowns are hard to resist. Castillo is a pretty good wrestler, too, with good takedown defense, but he seems to fare better against guys who are also not wrestlers. When he can't impose his will, he struggles. 

    Castillo will land some sharp stuff, and there should be some exchanges that bring the crowd to its feet. But Ferguson will win the takedown battle, and that will spell the difference.

    Prediction: Ferguson, unanimous decision

T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao

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    Renan Barao
    Renan BaraoUSA TODAY Sports

    Division: Bantamweight (for UFC bantamweight championship)
    Records: T.J. Dillashaw (10-2), Renan Barao (32-2)
    See it on: Pay-per-view

    I picked Barao the first time, and I was wrong. Since I'm a glutton for punishment, I'll pick Barao again.

    Not that anything in Dillashaw's original victory was fluky. He beat Barao to the punch over and over and dictated the pace and location of the fight. He was the better fighter at UFC 173, and it wasn't especially close.

    But Barao's just too good to lay two eggs in a row. He'll be a man on fire and will throw the kitchen sink at the champion. He'll use leg kicks to take some starch out of Dillashaw's attack, defend every takedown attempt and eventually bring his ball-peen muay thai to bear. Neither man will tire, but this time Barao will be the crisper, quicker man.

    This will set up a rubber match for the history books. But for now, the longtime champ regains what was long his.

    Prediction: Barao, unanimous decision

    Scott Harris writes various things about MMA for Bleacher Report. Follow Scott on Twitter if you feel so inclined.