UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao, currently Dana White’s pick as best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, will attempt to maintain his nearly ten-year unbeaten streak at UFC 173 Saturday night with a win over Team Alpha member TJ Dilashaw.
Barao (32-1-0, 1NC) who owns a pair of stoppage victories over Dillashaw’s Team Alpha Male leader and mentor Urijah Faber.
Dillashaw earned a decision win over Mike Easton back at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs Philippou.
TJ is the heavy underdog, but is confident he has the gameplan and all-around skills to shock the world.
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
MMA Crossfie Expert Cassie Wiseman breaks down the card:
UFC FIGHT PASS EARLY PRELIMS (6:30PM ET/3:30 PM PT)
DAVID “BULLDAWG” MICHAUD (7-0-0) VS LI “THE LEECH” JINGLIANG (8-2-0)
Wiseman: Jingliang is called “The Leech” for a reason; he doesn’t allow distance. Michaud is well-rounded, but he won’t be able to get Jingliang off of him which will burn out his gas tank quickly. Jingliang will score the submission either after Michaud is tired later in the fight or early as Michaud is scrambling to get off the mat.
Wiseman Prediction: Li “The Leetch” Jingliang via submission.
SAM SICILLA (12-4-0) VS AARON “THE MODEL” PHILLIPS (5-0-0)
Wiseman: “The Model” is going to be in for a rough night against Sicilia. The power and intention to break the will of his opponents will be like something Phillips never faced in his career. On the mat it will be a chess match, but in the striking department, Sicilia is more technical and more unpredictable with his striking.
Wiseman Prediction: Sam “The Model” Sicilia via TKO.
ANTHONY “THE ASSASSIN” NJOKUANI (17-7-0) VS VINC “FROM HELL” PICHEL (8-1-0)
Wiseman: These guys are finishers, but Pichel is just devastating. He will throw strikes to keep his opponent guess, mixing up his combinations, then turn things into a grappling match. When the distance is closed the match is over. Pichel will fight dirty, get things to the mat, and end the night with vicious ground-and-pound.
Wiseman Prediction: Vinc “From Hell” Pichel via TKO.
SPORTSNET 360 PRELIMS (8PM ET /5 PM PT)
AL “RAGING” IAQUINTA (8-2-1) VS MITCH “DANGER ZONE” CLARKE (10-2-0)
Wiseman: The biggest thing separating these two is the level of competition. Iaquinta has more power while Clarke is vastly superior on the mat, but Iaquinta can stuff takedowns very well. I see Clarke striving to get things to the mat while Iaquinta fires bombs. If Clarke gets the takedown, it wouldn’t be until the later rounds when Iaquinta is tired, but I see Iaquinta charging forward before that happens.
Wiseman Prediction: Al “Raging” Iaquinta via TKO.
CHRIS “HOLDS IT DOWN” HOLDSWORTH (6-0-0) VS (CHICO “THE KING” CAMUS (14-4-0)
Wiseman: Holdsworth trains with the best of the best on a daily basis, so this will be a situation where the actual fight will be less taxing than training camp. Camus is a powerful striking and talented, but Holdsworth has power, can cover a load of distance, great wrestling, and a killler on the mat. Camus doesn’t have what it takes for this up-and-comer.
Wiseman Prediction: Chris “Holds it down” Holdsworth via submission.
TONY “ELCUCUY” FERGUSON (15-3-0) VS KATSUNORI KIKUNO (22-5-2)
Wiseman: While this is going to be an entertaining standing battle, Ferguson will use his striking to take things to the mat. Kikuno has better grappling, but Ferguson will be able to threaten early with his aggressive striking to move the fight to the mat. Kikuno will be on the defence for the entire fight while Ferguson will come out guns blazing.
Wiseman Prediction: Tony “Elcucuy” Ferguson via TKO.
MICHEAL “MAVERICK” CHIESA (10-1-0) VS FRANCISCO “MASSRANDUB” TRINALDO (14-3-0)
Wiseman: While Trinaldo has the clear power advantage, Chiesa isn’t a guy who goes for huge power shots anyway. What Chiesa does is close the gap and use his grappling to transition into a submission. Trinaldo needs distance to get his game plan going, as do most fighters, but Chiesa’s secret weapon is never giving anyone distance. He fights very similar to Clay Guida, sticking to his opponents to tire them out to get a choke going.
Wiseman Prediction: Michael “Maverick” Chiesa via submission.
MAIN CARD (10 PM ET /7 PM PT)
JAMIE VARNER (21-9-1, 2 NC) VS JAMES “THE JAMES KRAUSE” KRAUSE (20-5-0)
Wiseman: This is going to be a fantastic fight! Varner is a savage on the ground and will try to get things to the mat to use ground-and-pound. Certainly his best idea, as Krause throws a flurry of strikes with heat behind them. However, Krause is very aggressive on the ground. He can submit guys out of nowhere, so Varner will be in trouble anywhere the fight goes in this match.
Wiseman Prediction: James “The James Krause” Krause via submission.
#6 TAKEYA MIZUGAKI (19-7-2) VS #10 FRANCISCO “CISCO” RIVERA (10-2-0, 1 NC)
Wiseman: Mizugaki is dangerous in the clinch and swings with big power. The problem is that he leaves himself open for counters every time he throws. Rivera is better in the striking department but will need to keep distance on his side in order to win. Mizugaki will grapple to take away Rivera’s strength, his power striking. Rivera doesn’t need much time though and if Mizugaki rushes in, he will end up on the mat.
Wiseman Prediction: Francisco “Cisco” Rivera via TKO.
#1 “RUTHLESS” ROBBIE LAWLER (22-10-0, 1NC) VS #5 “THE JUGGERNAUT” JAKE ELLENBERGER (29-7-0)
Wiseman: Looking at the records doesn’t tell the story between these two, as Lawler is a different fighter since working in the UFC. Ellenberger has been out for almost a year after a boring loss to MacDonald versus Lawler who fought two seconds ago and almost won against Hendricks. Ellenberger isn’t going to stand a chance. Wrestling or striking, Lawler is better.
Wiseman Prediction: “Ruthless: Robbie Lawler via TKO.
#4 DANIEL “DC” CORMIER” (14-0-0) VS #6 DAN “HENDO” HENDERSON (30-11-0)
Wiseman: No one can ever count out Henderson. I had Rua beating him the last time they fought, but Henderson connected with his big right and ended everything. Cormier will be bigger and with better cardio, but Henderson when he charges is fast and incredible power. They both wrestle, but I had Cormier being the stronger of the two in that department. Cormier needs to be tested in this weight category and this is a good one. Still not something to prepare him for Jones, but still a good test.
Wiseman Prediction: Daniel “DC” Cormier via decision.
RENAN “THE BARON” BARAO (34-1-0, 1 NC) VS #4 TJ DILLASHAW (10-2-0)
Wiseman: When it comes to a test for Barao Dillashaw will certainly be that, as well as make this entertaining. The problem is even though Dillashaw is a beast anywhere, he still isn’t enough to defeat Barao. Barao is fast, powerful, and aggressive with perfect timing. Dillashaw is no one to sleep on and he will try to use his wrestling, but Barao isn’t someone who is easy to get to the mat. If he does take Barao to the mat he then has to deal with the ground game of Barao. I feel that would be Dillashaw’s best bet, test the cardio of Barao, but I don’t see Dillashaw being in a position where he is in total control. The best and most dangerous aspect of Barao is his timing. We saw it against Urijah Faber.
Wiseman Prediction: Renan “The Baron” Barao via TKO.