The Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to the MGM Grand for the UFC 173 fight card on May 24.
The event will be headlined by a bantamweight title matchup featuring Renan Barão and T.J. Dillashaw. In the co-main, undefeated Daniel Cormier will take on his first legitimate opponent in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light-heavyweight division when he squares up against Dan Henderson.
Here are my UFC 173 predictions:
Renan Barão vs. T.J. Dillashaw (bantamweight title fight)
A finalist on the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter reality series, Dillashaw (9-2-0, 3 KOs) will be in for the toughest test of his MMA career when he trades shots with Barão (32-1-0, 14 submissions).
T.J. has evolved a lot since his days on the Ultimate Fighter, picking up some solid kickboxing skills to go with his impressive wrestling ability. However, as amazing as Dillashaw’s growth has been, it might not be enough to get him past Barão.
Considered one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in MMA, Barão brings elite level muay thai, almost impregnable takedown defense, and remarkable submission skills every time he steps inside the Octagon.
Dillashaw struggled a bit the last time he faced an elite level opponent in Raphael Assunção, meaning he likely will be in for another tough night at UFC 173.
Prediction: Barão wins via TKO.
Dan Henderson vs. Daniel Cormier
Henderson (30-11-0, 14 KOs) secured an impressive KO victory against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua during his last outing, and he’ll be looking to add Cormier (14-0-0, 6 KOs) to his list of victims at UFC 173.
Unfortunately for him, “DC” is no joke.
Cormier is one of the few MMA fighters with more impressive wrestling credentials than Henderson, and, in my opinion, he’s better with his hands as well.
That makes this Cormier’s fight to lose.
Prediction: Cormier wins via decision.
Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger
There are many MMA fans who believe Lawler (22-10-0, 18 KOs) should be the UFC’s welterweight champion right now. The San Diego native put on a memorable show during his March 15 5-rounder against “Bigg Rigg,” hurting Hendricks early and often during the fight.
Unfortunately for Robbie, the Octagon-side judges felt Hendricks was the better man afterwards.
Fortunately for Lawler, he’ll get to take his frustration out on Ellenberger (29-7-0, 18 KOs) at UFC 173, and possibly earn himself another shot at the welterweight title.
Ellenberger is a well-rounded MMA fighter, but he seems to be a tailor-made opponent for Lawler. “Ruthless” should have the advantage striking wise, and his takedown defense should be good enough to force a standup battle.
That’s not good for Ellenberger.
Prediction: Lawler wins via KO.
Remaining UFC 173 predictions:
Francisco Rivera defeats Takeya Mizugaki
Jamie Varner defeats James Krause
Francisco Trinaldo defeats Michael Chiesa
Tony Ferguson defeats Katsunori Kikuno
Chris Holdsworth defeats Chico Camus
Al Iaquinta defeats Mitch Clarke
Anthony Njokuani defeats Vinc Pichel
David Michaud defeats Li JingLiang
Sam Sicilia defeats Aaron Phillips
David is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing practitioner who has watched and studied MMA for the past 9 years. Send him your questions @davidkingwriter.
Don’t forget to check out my UFC 173 FightPicks after weigh-ins. Up +15.68 units so far this year. Thanks to all those who paid tribute after the record setting UFC Fight Night 40 picks that earned + 12.71 units.