Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns stateside for an action-packed UFC on FOX 16 later today (Sat., July 25, 2015) featuring the bantamweight title rematch 14 months in the making as TJ Dillashaw looks to once again take out Renan Barao live from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Catch all the action LIVE with a FOX main card start time of 8 p.m. ET (for up-to-date UFC on FOX 16 results click here).
Below is everything you need to know to stay on top of tonight's action.
Who: TJ Dillashaw vs Renan Barao
What: UFC on FOX 16
When: Sat., July 25, 2015, beginning at 4:15 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass
Where: United Center in Chicago, Illinois
How To Watch: Main card at 8 p.m ET on FOX; FOX "Prelims" under card at 6 p.m. ET; UFC Fight Pass "Prelims" under card at 4:15 p.m ET.
Live UFC on FOX 16 results: Play-by-play coverage stream right here
Why It Matters: After a tumultuous week that saw mixed martial arts (MMA) fans get riled up over fan-favorite cutman "Stitch" Duran getting fired for his comments on the Reebok deal, UFC President Dana White going off on fans on Twitter, and Reebok issuing a Tweet that they are not involved with UFC's decision making processes, you have to believe UFC brass will be delighted to have the focus switch to an event.
Other than the aforementioned reasons, a UFC title is on the line, and you can't ask for a better fight pitting two of the very best bantamweights in the world against each other. Can Dillashaw replicate his perfect UFC 173 performance, or will the Brazilian attain UFC gold once again?
What's Hot: The UFC on FOX 16 main event may not have the monstrous hype of some other recent title bouts, but don't mistake this for being a weak fight. 14 months ago, Renan Barao was considered by many to be the very best fighter on planet earth, and a near 10-year winning streak for "The Baron" backed up those claims. At UFC 173, the Brazilian was scheduled to throw down against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) runner-up TJ Dillashaw in a fight that seemed to be a lopsided mismatch. Almost nobody gave "Viper" a chance going in, but after a five round beatdown and subsequent fifth round stoppage to earn the title, the tables have turned dramatically just over a year later. Both men have one victory under their respective belts since their first meeting, and now it is Dillashaw who is the heavy favorite this evening. This could be one for the record books ladies and gentleman.
What's Not: UFC on FOX 16 is a strong card overall, but I am peeved by one specific fighter scheduled to throw down on the Fight Pass "Prelims." Why in the world is Jessamyn Duke still on UFC's roster? Once a major prospect coming from TUF, Duke has fallen to 1-2 inside the Octagon, including a vicious beating at the hands of Leslie Smith last July. After a year layoff, "The Gun" will face Elizabeth Phillips tonight in Chicago, but I really wish UFC brass had sent her down to Invicta to hone her skills for a few fights prior to getting the call to the big show once again.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
As usual, UFC brass were forced to shuffle a handful of bouts at UFC on FOX 16 thanks to the dreaded injury bug.
The biggest loss was former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis pulling out of his scheduled battle against Myles Jury due to an elbow injury. Edson Barboza stepped up to fight Jury on short notice, but when "Fury" too pulled out with an injury, Paul Felder was tabbed as his replacement.
Rustam Khabilov was set to battle Danny Castillo in Chicago tonight, but visa issues forced Khabilov out of the fight, and in his place stepped Jim Miller on short notice.
Erik Koch was set to battle Ramsey Nijem this evening, but a late injury to Koch forced UFC brass to call up newcomer Andrew Holbrook.
Dominique Steele (vs. Zak Cummings): "Non-Stop Action Packed" makes his UFC debut this evening boasting an impressive 13-5 MMA record. A veteran of the regional scene, Steele has victories over Dan Hornbuckle and Chuck O'Neill. The 27-year old once fought in Bellator, losing to Brian Rogers via decision.
Andrew Holbrook (vs. Ramsey Nijem): Holbrook is an undefeated lightweight prospect with a 9-0 record, featuring nine submission victories. Fighting solely on the regional scene, Holbrook has never faced off against quality competition in MMA yet.
How The "Prelims" Look: Pretty strong.
With only four main card fights on FOX, the "Prelims" card has eight scheduled bouts both on UFC Fight Pass and FOX.
The Fight Pass "Prelims" are not all that enticing other than the lightweight battle between Daron Cruickshank and James Krause.
As for the FOX "Prelims," fight fans will be indulged by the violent stylings of Ben Saunders when he takes on the streaking Kenny Robertson. On top of that 170-pound tussle is a critical bantamweight fixture between Eddie Wineland and Bryan Caraway.
While I'm not all that intrigued by the 205-pound "Prelims" main event featuring Gian Villante vs Tom Lawlor, I am excited to watch Danny Castillo and Jim Miller throw down in what will likely be a vintage performance from the New Jersey native.
Overall, this is a pretty enthralling "Prelims" card.
Who Needs A Win Badly: This portion is reserved for fighters who could be fighting for their jobs today, rather than contenders or title challengers needing victory. Let's take a look at those who need to pull it together:
Jessamyn Duke vs Elizabeth Phillips: The women's bantamweight division is paper-thin, but nothing can save either of these women's jobs other than a victory tonight in Chicago. Both women have lost two straight, and neither have been all that impressive inside the Octagon thus far. This is a loser leaves town match.
James Krause (vs. Daron Cruickshank): In five UFC fights, Krause in 2-3, including his current two-fight losing streak. To make matter worse, Krause's last victory was thanks in part to a horrendous ankle injury suffered by Jamie Varner back at UFC 173. If the Virginia native can't pull out a victory this evening, he likely won't be fighting for UFC anymore.
Jim Miller vs. Danny Castillo: UFC mainstays Jim Miller and Danny Castillo have seen it all inside the Octagon, but neither man has ever once suffered a three fight losing streak. While I suspect Miller would keep his job win or lose tonight, Castillo may very well be fighting for his UFC roster spot in Chicago.
Interest Level: 7/10
This isn't a monumental card by any means, but how can I possibly complain about a free title fight on FOX?
UFC on FOX 16 will deliver a night full of high-level action, consequential bouts, and hopefully some memorable finishes.
Ultimately, this is a solid MMA event that should deliver in a major way this evening.
Check out the full UFC on FOX 16 card below:
UFC on FOX Main Event:
135 lbs.: UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw vs. Renan Barao
UFC on FOX Main Card (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Jessica Eye vs. Miesha Tate
155 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Paul Felder
155 lbs.: Takanori Gomi vs. Joe Lauzon
UFC on FOX "Prelims" (6 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Tom Lawlor vs. Gian Villante
155 lbs.: Danny Castillo vs. Jim Miller
170 lbs.: Kenny Robertson vs. Ben Saunders
135 lbs.: Bryan Caraway vs. Eddie Wineland
UFC Fight Pass "Prelims" (4 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Daron Cruickshank vs. James Krause
155 lbs.: Andrew Holbrook vs. Ramsey Nijem
135 lbs.: Jessamyn Duke vs. Elizabeth Phillips
170 lbs.: Zak Cummings vs. Dominique Steele
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 16 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET before the FOX main card start time of 8 p.m. ET.
See you tonight!