The rematch between former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao and reigning 135-pound king T.J. Dillashaw is one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year. It headlines UFC 177 on Saturday from Dillashaw's hometown of Sacramento, California, so fans should expect a raucous crowd on hand at the Sleep Train Arena.
In the first fight, Dillshaw executed a perfect game plan centered around lateral movement and effective and accurate striking. Dillashaw connected on 140 of 309 significant strikes, while Barao landed just 64 of 273.
Dillashaw surgically dismantled an opponent who had appeared to be a fighter without weakness in the last three years.
The loss snapped a 32-fight win streak for Barao that had lasted more than nine years. Can Dillashaw do it again? That's what everyone wants to know.
Here's a breakdown of the entire card, predictions for each bout and viewing information. For a more detailed look at the top three bouts, check out the analysis just after the table.
|UFC Fight Pass Preliminary|
|Chris Wade vs. Cain Carrizosa||Lightweight||Carrizosa by submission|
|Fox Sports 1 Preliminary|
|Joe Soto vs. Anthony Birchak||Bantamweight||Birchak by TKO|
|Ruan Potts vs. Anthony Hamilton||Heavyweight||Hamilton by KO|
|Scott Jorgensen vs. Henry Cejudo||Flyweight||Cejudo by TKO|
|Lorenz Larkin vs. Derek Brunson||Middleweight||Brunson by TKO|
|PPV Main Card|
|Yancy Medeiros vs. Damon Jackson||Lightweight||Jackson by submission|
|Ramsey Nijem vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira||Lightweight||Ferreira by decision|
|Bethe Correia vs. Shayna Baszler||Women's Bantamweight||Correia by decision|
|Tony Ferguson vs. Danny Castillo||Lightweight||Ferguson by TKO|
|UFC Bantamweight Title - (c) T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao||Bantamweight||Barao by submission|
Card per UFC, picks by Brian Mazique
Bethe "Pitbull" Correia Will Take Down Another Horsewoman
After Bethe Correia defeated Jessamyn Duke in her previous fight, she held up four fingers and slowly dropped one of them.
It was a shot at the self-proclaimed Four Horsewomen of MMA: Ronda Rousey, Duke, Marina Shafir and Shayna Baszler. The UFC immediately saw the awesomeness in Correia's gesture and booked her against Baszler.
Can Correia take down half of the crew?
You bet she can. Correia is not especially strong as a striker. She's only finished one opponent in her eight professional fights. That said, she's undefeated, and it's not because of luck.
Correia simply wins rounds, and it's based on her activity and relentless approach. The 5'4" dynamo overwhelms her opponents, and that's likely to be the case on Saturday against Baszler.
The Pitbull will win by unanimous decision.
El Cucuy Will Be Too Long and Athletic for Last Call
Tony "El Cucuy" Ferguson is putting together a solid run in the UFC. Since debuting in 2011, Ferguson is 5-1 with the only defeat coming to Michael Johnson via decision in 2012.
In Ferguson's last fight, he spectacularly finished Katsunori Kikuno with a vicious right hand. He had worn him down with excellent technique on the ground, and he simply depleted his fatigued opponent with the power shot.
Danny "Last Call" Castillo scored an impressive KO of his own over Charlie Brenneman in his last fight, but he will be facing an impediment similar to the one Kikuno faced with Ferguson.
Ferguson is too long and skilled on the ground. He'll wear Castillo down on the mat and then stop him in the second round.
Renan Barao Will Avenge His Loss to Dillashaw
Are you ready for a trilogy? That's what's on the way for MMA fans after Barao takes back the UFC bantamweight title.
Dillashaw fought a perfect fight in the first meeting, and he'll need to do the same thing against Barao in the rematch.
Instead of attempting to strike with the lightning quick and confident champion, Barao will go back to his submission and grappling roots. While Dillashaw is no slouch in this department, he clearly has a better chance of winning if he keeps the fight standing as he did in the first fight.
Barao wanted to oblige him before, but he has to realize that's not the way to beat Dillashaw.
As devastating as Barao had become as a striker, it's easy to forget he also owns 14 wins by submission in his career. My prediction is that the number grows to 15 after he sinks in a rear-naked choke to regain his title.
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