Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will pull the trigger on its annual Memorial Day weekend pay-per-view (PPV) event tonight (Sat., May 24, 2014) from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
UFC 173 features Bantamweight champion Renan Barao looking to defend his 135-pound title against Team Alpha Male product T.J. Dillashaw in the main event of the evening. The mixed martial arts (MMA) show also features several other big names, including Daniel Cormier, Dan Henderson and Robbie Lawler, among others.
In addition, UFC 173's "Prelims" under card will showcase numerous compelling match ups, some of which should be great opportunities for fighters to earn some buzz.
Without further ado, let's take a look at some of the fighters who are most likely to bring home a bonus check for their efforts in "Sin City" later on tonight:
Renan Barao (Fighting T.J. Dillashaw): Barao is one of UFC's more dominant champions, boasting a tremendous win streak over many top-level opponents. His skill set is one that would pose a problem for any fighter, especially an unfinished fighter like Dillashaw. Indeed, Dillashaw is getting a lot of credit lately and is being called underrated, but that said, let's take him for what he is: a wrestler with good hands ... and not too much else. Barao's game is far more complete and I just don't see Dillashaw putting an end to the younger -- and more complete -- Barao's tremendous win streak.
Daniel Cormier (Fighting Dan Henderson): Cormier comes into this fight as the younger, bigger, faster and more complete fighter. Henderson's game is largely just his big right hand, while Cormier has many tools at his disposal. I doubt Cormier is taking this lightly because of what is at stake, a Light Heavyweight title shot. And there is also reason to doubt Henderson now that he can't benefit from testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Cormier will probably outdo him, if not for a finish, then he'll get a very impressive decision win.
Robbie Lawler and Jake Ellenberger: This fight could be very, very fun. Lawler is fresh off a close decision loss to Johny Hendricks in a fight that showed off both their chins and tenacity, while Ellenberger is a known power puncher who can make some fun fights. Ellenberger's last fight was a bit of a stinker, but given both their skill sets and fight styles, I don't think we'll see either man try to slow the pace down and cruise to a boring win.
Takeya Mizugaki and Francisco Rivera: This fight has flown under the radar to some extent, but either fighter could be looking at a title eliminator with a win because the Bantamweight division is fairly thin in terms of fresh contenders. Both guys are known to have very active, exciting approaches when striking and they are both also very durable fighters. Rivera probably has more power, but Mizugaki is quicker and has a better chin. Either way, this is a fight you don't want to miss.
Jamie Varner and James Krause: The PPV main card opener is also going to be an amazing fight. UFC really outdid itself with the first three bouts on the PPV main card because all of them look like they could be very fun. Varner is a grizzled veteran who likes to throw with power -- and as we saw in his last fight with Abel Trujillo -- sometimes he gets a little too wild for his own good. That said, he has a great chin, and Kraus will be there with him the whole fight. Krause is a rangy Lightweight with a solid striking game and a very dangerous grappling skill set. This fight will be entertaining no matter where it goes.
Al Iaquinta (Fighting Mitch Clarke): Iaquinta is a pretty good fighter, if not a little bit flawed. His striking is awkward, but effective, and he packs a ton of power. Clarke is more of a submission guy, but I think Iaquinta is a good enough wrestler to keep the fight standing and eventually put Clarke out with some big punches.
Anthony Njokuani (Fighting Vinc Pichel): Njokuani is too talented to be as inconsistent as he is -- he hasn't strung together consecutive wins since 2009. Despite this, I really don't rate Pichel highly at all. All of Pichel's wins come against fighters who range from "just okay," to "this isn't the job for you." And although he's beaten these guys impressively, it doesn't do much for his reputation. Njokuani is a far better striker and that's all that will matter ... I think Pichel is getting put away early.
Overall, we're in for a card with some fun fights, with most of them likely happening on the PPV portion. Of course, there will be some fights worth watching on the "Prelims," but overall UFC 173 will entertain more as the night goes on. Be sure to watch out for the fighters highlighted in this write up, because these standouts are poised to deliver great performances ... and probably leave with a little extra cash for their efforts.