UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw" may not have seemed worth the price at first, yet it proved to be one of the best pay-per-view (PPV) events thus far in 2014. It wouldn't rank high on a list of best PPV's of all time, but it was pretty damn good.
Reason being, is because T.J. Dillashaw beat Renan Barao to claim the UFC bantamweight championship last Saturday night (May 24, 2014), stopping him in the fifth round with punches, accomplishing a feat deemed somewhat impossible before their tussle (check out highlights here).
In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier destroyed Dan Henderson, slamming him to the ground in such a way you'd only see in pro wrestling before submitting him with a rear-naked choke in the third round (highlights here).
We get to all the juicy stuff below, with our "Great Expectations," fresh off the vine.
What We Expected: For Renan Barao to dismantle T.J. Dillashaw, give the matchmakers headaches as to who he should have faced afterward, and then go up against Urijah Faber for the third time. Yuck.
What We Learned: It's tough to say you shouldn't ever underestimate anyone, or shame on you for thinking the underdog didn't have a chance. Upsets happen in every sport, from college football to tennis. It's what makes competition so exciting. The reason upsets are so enthralling and downright shocking when they happen is because they weren't expected to happen.
Barao was literally one year away from being undefeated for a decade. If he had crushed Dillashaw, he would have won 33 straight bouts, possessing the most spectacular winning streak in UFC, let alone one of the most impressive runs in the history of the sport.
Every fighter has holes, but Dillashaw didn't show us a glimpse of his this past weekend. He was technically sound, demolishing the former champion at his own game. Everyone spoke about the Team Alpha Male member's wrestling, and how it could have been the difference, yet he stuffed Barao's attempts and didn't really need to pull his grappling skills out of his back pocket.
It reassures us this sport may not be primed for "world f---ing domination," while we still live in the MMA bubble, yet it reminds us why we still follow it in the most beautiful of ways. This era has been marred by oversaturation and shady UFC politics; however, we'll stick by organizations when they provide us with cards such as the one we just witnessed.
When Bellator 120 went down two weekends ago, we were amused, mostly because of the upsets on that card. Fast-forward to a week later, and we could have witnessed the biggest upset in UFC history, apart from Georges St-Pierre's welterweight title loss against Matt Serra at UFC 69.
It reminds us why we're still here, putting in work on laptops and staying up late at night to watch these events while our friends have fun on Saturday nights.
Hell, we're having fun, too.
What We Expected: Some believed Cormier was going to dominate Henderson on the feet or the mat, while others felt "Hendo" had a chance to land an "H-Bomb."
What We Learned: We basically learned Cormier has all the tools to be a world champion.
He completely wiped the Octagon mat clean with Henderson's body, whipping him for three rounds by using his superior wrestling prowess (video). It wasn't just a clinic; it was a statement to all the light heavyweights in his division that he's gunning for the title, taking out whoever stands in his way.
When it comes to Henderson's future, it's odd UFC President Dana White didn't mention any sort of retirement for the aging fighter at the post-fight press conference (watch it). Instead, he applauded his toughness, eager to seem him drop down to middleweight.
Why doesn't White give him the same talk he's going to give Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, or wanted to give Frank Mir and BJ Penn? Is it because Henderson left for Strikeforce years ago, indicating White seems to forgive when it's beneficial, but doesn't forget?
That could just be a conspiracy, but seriously, why does anyone want Henderson to fight anymore?
He's taken serious damage in his last three fights, getting knocked out by a TRT-fueled Vitor Belfort head kick and then gorilla-slammed and choked out by Cormier. Don't pretend like his victory against Mauricio Rua was a great performance, either. He was getting torched before landing the big right hand.
Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger
What We Expected: Bangfest.
What We Learned: There's a guy at work we are all familiar with. He stays quiet, unwilling to engage in stupid conversations about how Kanye West revolutionized rap music or who his favorite Sports Illustrated swimsuit model is. He brings the same ham and cheese sandwich for lunch everyday, refusing to eat anything else for the past two years, and he seems to really enjoy it while flipping through the same copy of National Geographic in the lunchroom.
To top it all off, he's a really nice guy, and if the boss asks him to stay overtime, he simply nods and gives one last push without ever complaining.
His full name is Robbie Lawler, and he's so awesome that your mother gives you an awkward look when you can't stop talking about him during your weekly visits.
Lawler utterly dominated Ellenberger on Saturday night (highlights), and if it weren't for "The Juggernaut's" takedowns, it was as close as a flawless victory as you're going to get. Seriously, who laughs after a takedown and drills someone's chest in with his knee after getting up seconds later?
As for his opponent, it wasn't exactly the same performance as he put forth against Rory MacDonald in his last fight, yet it was awfully close.
The Nebraskan had nothing for his adversary on the feet, raising questions about his willingness to engage or create opportunities after being hit. He had success with a couple of takedowns, but do they even count if your opponent gets up within seconds and laughs in your face?
This loss will be detrimental to his position in the welterweight division. There's no way you can call him a title contender at the moment and if he keeps on losing in similar fashion, his bosses could very well give him the Jake Shields treatment.
That's a wrap.
For extensive coverage of UFC 173: "Barao vs. Dillashaw," including post-fight recaps, video highlights, and in-depth results, click here.