UFC 173 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.
Renan Barao vs. T.J. Dillashaw
Dillashaw is a fighter who came into the UFC via the TUF show with a good skill-set and has shown marked improvement since then, but he may be biting off more than he can chew at this stage in his career against Barao.
Dillashaw is well rounded and does a good job of putting together combinations on the feet while mixing things up with takedowns and wrestling, but Barao is a striking technician and has excellent takedown defense, so it’s hard to see where Dillashaw is going to gain an edge in this encounter.
I could see Dillashaw challenging for the title later in his career again, but I think this fight will prove to be a learning experience for him as Barao gets the better of him in the striking and finds a TKO finish in the championship rounds.
Renan Barao to win by TKO in Rd4.
Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson
Henderson is really starting to show his age now in the Octagon with labored movement and an over-reliance on his right hand – but the power he wields in that hand can still turn a fight on it’s head in an instant.
Nonetheless, Cormier seems like a tough match-up for him. He’s much quicker and more mobile, hits hard and has excellent wrestling which means there’s multiple ways he can end up with the win here.
Hendo is remarkably resiliant, but he’s getting rocked a lot these days and even KO’d by Belfort, so I think it’s possible Cormier finishes him. It depends on how DC approaches the fight – he fought very cautiously at times against dangerous opponents in the UFC so far, so with a title shot on the line he could end up using the clinch and wrestling to win this one. Either way I think he gets the victory.
Daniel Cormier to win by decision.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Robbie Lawler
These two welterweights hit like a truck so the chances of a knockout finish here are high.
Both have wrestling ability too, but I think we’re in for a stand-up battle here. For my money Lawler is the better boxer, is more comfortable in the pocket, and is every bit as ‘Ruthless’ as his nickname suggests while Ellenberger has shown signs of being hesitant at times and is more predictable in his output.
With that in mind I think Lawler is the more likely to come out on top here, though with this much punching power in the cage it really could go either way.
Robbie Lawler to win by KO in Rd2.
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Francisco Rivera
Mizugaki really is a wily veteran and is difficult to beat, with a good mix of boxing and wrestling together with just being extremely tough making him a handful for anyone in the division.
Rivera’s an exciting and punishing striker, but while he’s put together a nice winning run he’s not faced the same level of competition as Mizugaki over the course of his career and I think he comes unstuck here as Mizugaki mixes things up and grinds him down over the course of three rounds.
Takeya Mizugaki to win by decision.
James Krause vs. Jamie Varner
Speaking of wily veterans, Varner fits the bill too. Despite all his experience the former The injury prone former WEC champ shows a worrying degree of inconsistency at this stage in his career though.
Krause has plenty of experience too, though not at the same level. Both men have a similar skills, able to hold their own in the striking, but over the course of their career having a good deal of success on the mat.
This fight could come down to which version of Varner shows up on the night. He’s in a bit of a slump at the moment, but I still think he’s the better fighter of the two and will come out on top on Saturday night.
Jamie Varner to win by TKO in Rd2.
Michael Chiesa vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Tony Ferguson vs. Katsunori Kikuno
Chico Camus vs. Chris Holdsworth
Mitch Clarke vs. Al Iaquinta
Anthony Njokuani vs. Vinc Pichel
Aaron Phillips vs. Sam Sicilia
Jingliang Li vs. David Michaud