On Saturday night, mixed martial arts fans got to witness a spectacular show with UFC 173 live on pay-per-view. There were a number of thrilling matches and stunning results, with an ending that nobody saw coming.
From the opening prelim to the main event, there was a lot that took place inside of the octagon at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, which means there was also a lot to take in.
We are here to pick up the pieces from that event, by discussing some of the biggest winners and losers from Saturday night’s action.
The fans could be consider the biggest winner of the event because of the epic nature of what went down, but we will keep the focus solely on the fighters who improved and hurt their stock the most.
Let’s start with the biggest losers from the night.
Barao was poised to become a star in the UFC and with a win he would have been considered by many the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Unfortunately, a much fast, hungrier TJ Dillashaw came in and put an end to Barao’s reign at the top of the bantamweight division.
Barao was dominated from the start of the fight until the end and will need to find a way to bounce back.
One loss doesn’t completely remove Barao from the discussion of the world’s best fighters, but his stock certainly took a major hit after the unlikely challenger and heavy underdog came in and completely dominated the fight.
For the second straight fight, Ellenberger under performed against a top contender. Much like his disappointing outing against Rory MacDonald, Ellenberger was hesitant to throw his punches and got picked apart in the process.
More coverage: UFC 173 fighter bonuses | Jones vs. Gustafsson II targeted for August
It was unfortunate to see, but some fighters seem to never be able to get over that hump to become a true title challenger and Ellenberger seems to be joining that group.
Of course, losing to Robbie Lawler is nothing to be ashamed of, but Ellenberger cannot be happy with his disappointing performance that saw him running backwards for a majority of the fight and simply playing defense.
Iaquinta was on a three-fight winning streak, which was one of the longest in the UFC’s lightweight division, and could have made a case to receive a big step up in competition with another impressive win.
After the first round of his fight with Mitch Clarke, Iaquinta seemed well on his way to scoring a big stoppage win but he ultimately got caught in a D’Arce choke and was put to sleep.
Just like that, Iaquinta goes stumbling back down the ladder and must scratch and claw his way to get back into position to be knocking on the door of the top 15 rankings.
There aren’t enough words to describe just how special TJ Dillashaw’s performance was on Saturday night. It was truly one of the most impressive outings we have ever seen from a fighter to step into the UFC cage and he pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the promotion’s history.
From the opening bell, Dillashaw dominated the fight with his speed and footwork as he went on to hand Barao his first loss since 2005 and claimed the belt.
Your stock can’t get much higher than being champion, so Dillashaw is the clear winner of Saturday night.
If the TJ Dillashaw that walked into the octagon at UFC 173 is able to continue showing up, he could be a difficult puzzle to solve. With his footwork and the way he mixed up his striking, he was a mixture of Dominick Cruz and Alexander Gustafsson in the cage. It was spectacular.
The only question for Dillashaw now is who to fight next and a rematch with Raphael Assuncao certainly seems appealing.
Robbie Lawler looked like a man possessed at UFC 173. He came out looking to make a statement and show the world that he was ready to get back in the cage against UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, and he did just that by dismantling Jake Ellenberger.
More coverage: Lawler vs. Ellenberger highlights | Lawler stops Ellenberger in Round 3
Lawler landed huge shots at the beginning of the fight and went on to pick apart Ellenberger until turning on the pressure and scoring an impressive finish.
There is now a real possibility that Lawler could wait for a title shot if Hendricks will be ready to go in the early fall, but if the champion needs more time to recover a fight between Lawler and Matt Brown would be a great consolation prize for the fans.
Everyone knew that Daniel Cormier was a real threat in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, but the way that he came out on Saturday night and completely destroyed Dan Henderson for two and a half rounds before choking him unconscious was a scary sight to see.
We have never seen Henderson dominated like that in his career, but it just goes to show how great Cormier can be.
More coverage: Cormier vs. Henderson highlights | Cormier willing to wait for title shot
Cormier has said that he is now willing to wait for a title shot, which is he clearly deserving of, but UFC president Dana White said he believes Cormier should take another fight.
Jones vs. Gustafsson II is being targeted for August, so the best case scenario for Cormier would be that the title fight could come at the end of the year show.
Regardless of what happens, Cormier has shown that he is one of the top light heavyweights in the world and whoever has the belt following the Jones vs. Gustafsson rematch will have a serious problem on their hands.
While there were a number of quality performances on Saturday night, it was hard not to be incredibly impressed with Tony Ferguson’s showcase performance against Katsunori Kikuno on the preliminary card.
Kikuno, who has one of the most bizarre styles in the UFC, is a hard puzzle to figure out but Ferguson was able to pick the Japanese superstar apart on way to a one-punch knockout win.
More coverage: Ferguson steals spotlight in prelims
Ferguson was clicking on all cylinders and now the former Ultimate Fighter winner is 5-1 inside of the octagon with four stoppage wins.
His last two finishes have been the one-punch knockout of Kikuno and and a Brabo choke over Mike Rio.
It is safe to say that “El Cucuy” has learned from his loss to Michael Johnson back in 2012 and he will not be satisfied until he avenges that loss and gets into title contention.
If Ferguson can keep piling up these stoppage wins and dismantling opponents, he will be getting top ten opponents in no time.
Below are the full UFC 173 results:
- TJ Dillashaw def. Renan Barao via TKO (strikes) — Round 5 (2:26)
- Daniel Cormier def. Dan Henderson via submission (rear-naked choke) — Round 3 (3:53)
- Robbie Lawler def. Jake Ellenberger via TKO (strikes) — Round 3 (2:06)
- Takeya Mizugaki def. Francisco Rivera via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- James Krause def. Jamie Varner via TKO (doctor stoppage) — Round 1 (5:00)
- Michael Chiesa vs. Francisco Trinaldo via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
- Tony Ferguson def. Katsunori Kikuno via TKO (punch) – Round 1, 4:06
- Chris Holdsworth def. Chico Camus via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Mitch Clarke def. Al Iaquinta via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 2, 0:57
- Vinc Pichel def. Anthony Njokuani via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Sam Sicilia def. Aaron Phillips via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Jingliang Li def. David Michaud via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)