It's almost here.
UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw" takes place tonight (May 24, 2014) inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, with two huge fights serving as the headliners.
The main event features UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao defending his title for the fourth time against T.J. Dillashaw. The Brazilian is looking to make it 33 straight victories since losing in his very first mixed martial arts (MMA) contest, while the challenger is could make history in his eighth fight for the organization.
Dan Henderson battles Daniel Cormier in the co-main event, in what should be a captivating contest. The winner of their bout could be next in line for a light heavyweight title shot, waiting for the results when Jon Jones squares off against Alexander Gustafsson.
Now that the fighters who are taking part in this event finished off a week of media appearances and successfully made weight (see the staredown pics here), it's time for their "Last Words," before the time for talking is over and the fists start flying.
Renan Barao vs. T.J. Dillashaw
Ultimate Media Day
UFC correspondent Megan Olivi caught up with the challenger first, who was calm and composed ahead of the biggest fight of his life.
How much he's been thinking about the belt and the fight on Saturday:
"I noticed it when I walked in and walked by it. I just can't wait to hold it. I haven't really thought about it too much. Obviously, I've watched the fight go through my head, but I haven't thought about the belt other than now, just seeing it and walking by it."
If his Team Alpha Male teammates (Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, Joseph Benavidez) gave him any advice on how to handle the whole week:
"Just not to look into the fight too much and believe in yourself, and just to react. Kind of do what you do is best and don't be intimidated."
The attention then turned to the champion, who was going about his business while sitting on his stool and answering an abundance of questions from media representatives.
If he thinks Dillashaw is a worthy opponent and if he sees him being a challenge inside the Octagon:
"I don't care who I fight against. If it is him, it's because the UFC thinks that he is the right opponent for me right now. I'm here to fight. He's a good fighter, a tough opponent. I'm just here to do my job and get a win."
Dan Henderson vs. Daniel Cormier
UFC on FOX Interviews
UFC on FOX correspondent Ariel Helwani was in the middle of the two co-main event competitors, conducting an interview with combatants who have mutual admiration for each other.
Juggling his time with both superstars, he began asking Cormier some rapid-fire questions.
If he expected Henderson to play mind games and get him off his game:
"No, man! It was different. After hanging out on Monday, I kind of got a feel for his personality a little bit more, and I know now that Dan Henderson ... he's a slickster."
If Henderson has more than a puncher's chance:
"Well, I mean obviously he does. He's a longtime veteran of the sport, he's a great fighter, but when you look at his past few wins, he's been knocking people out. That seems to be his way of winning that he prefers. If that's what he's got to depend on to win the fight, it's not going to happen. It's going to take much more to beat me in a mixed martial arts fight. Henderson has a lot of tools and a lot of ability, and a lot of chances to win, but he's going to have to mix it up."
If Henderson is on his level:
"Yeah, of course. I think he's a level above me, honestly. I mean, Dan and I both went to the Olympics twice, and he's fought much better competition in MMA and did more things than me in MMA. For the first time in my athletics career, my mixed martial arts career, I can say this is a guy that actually has done what I've done and done it at a higher level. So, I'm going into the cage with someone I respect, and somebody I really want to test my skills against."
Helwani asked "Hendo" similar questions (including the Popeyes invasion), with both competitors having fun in their last pre-fight interview.
If he thinks he broke him or if he's in his head:
"No, not at all. I was trying to be nice. He was talking how much he loved it, figured he could put it in the fridge for a couple of days and eat it."
If it's a challenge when Cormier says his wrestling doesn't hold up to his:
"I don't know. We'll see tomorrow, but I mean, bottom line is that's going to be where the fight's determined, who can outwrestle the other one, and who could outstrike each other. That's pretty much what both of us do. We like to strike and we're both wrestlers."
That just about does it.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 173 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.
See you then!