UFC 173 Results: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter
TJ Dillashaw shocked the world with not only a win but also a pure domination of Renan Barao, Daniel Cormier officially staked his claim to the top of the 205-pound division and Robbie Lawler showed that he's still the contender to beat at welterweight going forward.
All in all, it was not a bad way to spend an evening. Here are the grades for those who took to the Octagon.
Jamie Varner was, quite literally, a one-legged man in an ass-kicking competition on Saturday night as his ankle was broken early on, and he had little to go on from there. It was a remarkable showing of guts and tenacity on his behalf, one that he made oddly competitive with some attempted haymakers and crafty sweeps on the ground.
It was a loss on his record, but one that showed the type of grit that fans and UFC officials love. This doesn't hurt his stock much, and it wouldn't be insanely surprising to see him fighting James Krause again when he heals up.
Krause did what he came to do on Saturday night, securing a stoppage win over Varner after breaking his ankle with an attempted leg kick. It's the type of injury that's seemingly becoming more commonplace in MMA, and it played out in Krause's favor at UFC 173.
Up to the point of the stoppage though, Krause looked good. He was clearly ready for the test of Varner and the two were obviously in for a competitive bout had it not been stopped due to the injury.
Krause is a quiet contender at 155, and it's time for people to take note of that fact.
Takeya Mizugaki continued his career resurgence on Saturday, taking a clean decision from Francisco Rivera. Besting him on the feet with improved boxing and controlling him on the ground, there's suddenly a real case to be made for the Japanese veteran to be in title talks.
He's won five straight, though they've all been by decision, but the fact that he's been streaking in a division that doesn't have many streaks might be enough to push him to the front of the line.
UFC 173 didn't hurt his cause.
Rivera had a hard time with Mizugaki in Las Vegas, getting dropped a few times standing and offering little in the way of a threat on the ground. At the end of the night, he was on the wrong end of a decision, now heading back to the drawing board after a nice little streak of his own had garnered some attention.
It's not the end of the world for Rivera, but you never want to lose so convincingly when a win could put you in Dana White's notorious "mix" for a title shot. As it stands, Mizugaki is likely headed for that mix, while Rivera will remain on the fringes for the time being.
Lawler, a short-notice replacement for Tarec Saffiedine, came to fight at UFC 173. He was frightfully calm, even by his own standards, and stalked Jake Ellenberger for the better part of three rounds before putting him away in vintage fashion.
With hard power shots on the feet and ground, a commitment to pacing and a game plan, and then a violent knee to end the fight, Ruthless Robbie made it clear that he intends to be around at the top of 170 for a long time to come.
It's not a guarantee he'll fight for the title next, but it wouldn't be shocking if he did. Even if he doesn't, fights like Saturday night won't see him waiting long.
Ellenberger looked horrible against Lawler, starting slow and never really finding consistent footing for the remainder of the fight. It was similar to his bout with Rory MacDonald in many ways, though it played out like one would expect when the MacDonald effort meets an opponent as aggressive and nasty as Lawler.
It's hard to know where the Nebraska native goes from here, but he's quickly developing a reputation for falling apart when the stakes are at their highest. He has all the tools, but unless he learns to implement them against the best in the world, there's a good chance he's reached his peak as a top-five welterweight.
It's nothing to sneeze at, but surely it's not the ambition one has when entering the sport and getting so painfully close to elite status.
Dan Henderson looked like who he is on Saturday night: an aging fighter giving up at least a weight class worth of size to Daniel Cormier. The result was predictable, as he eventually succumbed to a rear-naked choke after surviving nearly three rounds of abuse.
There's been debate over Henderson's recent run, with a near loss to Shogun Rua breaking up what's now four losses in five fights. Though he says he's not done yet, and seems more open than ever to a run at middleweight, it might be time to accept that Hendo is close to done.
Cormier did what he needed to at UFC 173, mugging Henderson for the better part of 15 minutes before choking him unconscious late in the final stanza. It was the type of win that he needed to bolster his light heavyweight resume and the type of performance that adds a little additional substance.
After his call-out of Jon Jones in the cage, things look to be lining up in a manner that will pit DC against the champion once ownership of the gold is decided between Jones and Alexander Gustafsson later this year.
It's one that MMA fans will surely look forward to.
Well regular readers, let's say this: Pass the salt please, because never in history has eating crow been so much fun.
Dillashaw came to Vegas as a man possessed, beating the brakes off of champion Renan Barao for four rounds before finishing him in the fifth. To say it was impressive doesn't even kind of do it justice, as there was never a moment that the outcome was in doubt. It was all Dillashaw from bell to bell, round to round and wire to wire.
Game over. New champion. Thanks for coming out.
There was no question that Dillashaw had the tools to be great, but one had to wonder about his degree of seasoning going in. Apparently that was a total waste of time, though, because Dillashaw was beyond ready.
This was not only a major upset, it was executed in historic fashion. Challengers don't often take titles from champions the way Dillashaw did, so it's nothing but praise for the Alpha Male product.
Barao looked dreadful against a quicker, more aggressive and more effective challenger in Dillashaw on Saturday. From the opening stanza, the Brazilian struggled, getting badly outpaced and outworked over the course of the fight and offering not a single note of worthwhile offense over the 22 minutes it took him to lose his belt.
No one can say for sure why he was so bad at UFC 173, be it the added attention he's been getting or the pressure of maintaining a lengthy win streak. Maybe it was something else entirely. Most likely, though, it was that Dillashaw was undeniably better and proved it by pounding the champion at his leisure until he decided it was time to end the fight.
It was an awful, awful night for the now-former pound-for-pound stud.