Monday, 26 May 2014

UFC 173 Barao vs Dillashaw on BT Sport - TV Review

It's time to step into the Octagon once again, with T.J. Dillashaw challenging Renan Barao for the Bantamweight crown at UFC 173, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

The show began with lightweight action as Jamie Varner took on James Krause.

This fight looked extremely promising early on. Krause connected with a front kick/two punch combination, but about a minute in when it looked as if Varner was about to work his way back into the fight he stumbled and began to favour his left ankle.

From then on Varner became the one-legged man in an arse kicking contest, and although he scored with a takedown and got in some good ground and pound as the round went on and his injury caused him to stumble and fall on more than one occasion it became more than obvious that he just couldn't continue, and although he got to the end of the round he quit straight after saying that his he'd broken his ankle, giving Krause the TKO win.

It was down to bantamweight for the next fight as Takeya Mizugaki went up against Francisco Rivera.

The only fight of the main show that went the distance proved to be an interesting back and forth affair. Rivera put in some good early work but soon found himself on the ground after a three punch combination from the Japanese fighter. Everyone thought that Mizugaki was going to go in for the kill there and then, but instead he let Rivera back into the fight.

Rivera went on to have his moments, particularly when he took the fight to the ground and went for a guillotine in the second round, but his failure to lock in the hold properly meant that Mizugaki came back to take Rivera's back, and although he never got that rear naked choke he was looking for he did a good job of controlling the action.

As was evidenced in the final round. When Rivera connected with a right kick Mizugaki immediately countered with a right punch that sent Rivera crashing. Mizugaki followed him down, and by this time it seemed as if he knew that he was winning the fight when he did just enough to control the action. The referee stood the fighters up in the final minute, and it was only then that Rivera seemed to get his second wind when both fighters began to swing for the fences.

As for the judges they were in complete agreement as Mizugaki took the unanimous decision.

Welterweight action followed as Robbie Lawler faced Jake Ellenberger.

This proved to be a very enjoyable fight, and a somewhat one-sided affair. When Lawler opened his account with a kick to the head it was a sign of things to come. From there he controlled the fight beautifully. His striking in the first two rounds looked top notch, while Ellenberger looked like he was having trouble getting out of the starting blocks.

Apart from a couple of takedowns which ultimately led nowhere Ellenberger's best moments came early in the third round when he rocked Lawler, but as soon as he connected with a big right the assault stopped. Lawler was hurt, but an apparently injured right had meant that he couldn't go in for the kill, and when Lawler connected with a left knee to the face and followed up with some more shots as Ellenberger turtled up it wasn't long before the referee stopped the fight to give Lawler the TKO win.

The co-main event featured light heavyweight action as Daniel Cormier took on Dan Henderson.

I never thought I would say this, but for three rounds Dan Henderson looked very ordinary. The reason for that was Daniel Cormier's dominating performance.

This was even more one-sided than the Lawler/Ellenberger fight. It began when Cormier took Henderson down with ease, and from that moment on it was more or less a one-way affair. Henderson did a good job of tying his man up at first, but Cormier soon freed himself and showed just how good he was.

The most shocking thing about this fight was that Henderson just didn't seem able to do anything of note offensively, such was Cormier's control, and when Hendo went back to his corner after the second round you knew it was only a matter of time before Cormier ended the fight.

That end came as the fight neared it's final minute. Once again Cormier dominated after he slammed Henderson to the mat, and when he took his man's back and locked in a rear naked choke that was it. The referee waved the fight after Henderson passed out to give Cormier the submission win.

The main event saw T.J. Dillashaw challenging Renan Barao for the Bantamweight title.

Remember what I said about great fighters being made to look ordinary? Well, this was definitely the case with this one, because for four and a bit rounds Dillashaw did this to a man regarded as the best pound for pound fighter on the planet.

It began in the first round after the initial feeling out period when Dillashaw connected with a big right that sent Barao crashing to the ground, and although the champion managed to regain his senses he was never the same afterwards.

Dillashaw remained in control throughout. Everything he did just looked so smooth and so crisp. Barao managed to get in a few good blows, but as the fight went on it was becoming obvious that we were going to get a changing of the guard.

That change came in the final round, beginning with a left kick to the head. A barrage of blows followed before Barao fell to the mat again, and when Dillashaw followed him down for a few more blows the referee stepped in to give Dillashaw the title winning TKO win.

In conclusion - so how best to describe the UFC's latest offering? Outstanding? Brilliant? Exceptional?

All three would be an apt way of describing this show because from top to bottom we were treated to a great night of MMA action, and while it was a shame that the Varner/Krause fight had an unfortunate ending the other fights delivered big time, with one signalling a change in the guard and another signalling a possible change in the future.

As for my fight of the night it would surely have gone to Daniel Cormier's dominating win over Dan Henderson. Then T.J. Dillashaw came along and dismantled Renan Barao, so that particular question became a no brainer.

So with that being said there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give UFC 173 the big thumbs up.