UFC 173 Play: Renan Barao (-800) vs TJ Dillashaw (+550)

Renan Barao 2UFC 173 Date: May 24, 2014 Arena: MGM Grand Garden Arena City: Las Vegas, NV Bantamweight title bout: Renan Barao (-800) vs TJ Dillashaw (+550) Fight Breakdown: The main event for UFC 173 will be a five round title fight between UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao and challenger TJ Dillashaw. Barao is a big favorite heading into this match-up at -800 ($800 to win $100), and Dillashaw is a big underdog at +550 ($100 to win $550) at Several Bookmakerss. Renan Barao (32-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) has now made three successful title defenses since defeating Urijah Faber for the promotion’s then interim bantamweight title, all three of them resulting in finishes. His most recent victory came in a rematch against Faber, where he beat “The California Kid” via a very controversial first round TKO. Now into his fourth title defense, the Brazilian is riding an immensely impressive 32-fight winning streak, which began after losing his very first professional mixed martial arts bout via decision. Training out of the Nova Uniao camp in Brazil, Barao has some of the best coaches and training partners in the sport. Some of his training partners include UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo, Bellator bantamweight champ Eduardo Dantas, plus veterans Marlon Sandro, Wagney Fabiano, Marcos Galvao, and Hacran Dias. The 27-year old is a very talented striker who has great movement and likes to fight in a technical style that does not only score points but also inflicts significant damage to his opponents. Barao is by no means a point fighter, he is always looking for openings for a finish and opportunities to pounce. He can take an opponent’s back in a heartbeat if he sees a split-second of an opening. The Brazilian’s striking defense is excellent too, as he is not an easy target to hit. If a fight with him goes to the ground, it is likely because he wants it there. Barao has tremendous takedown defense, having defended 100% of takedown attempts in his UFC career. The Nova Uniao product’s conditioning has improved over the last couple of years, and I don’t think cardio will be an issue for him in this bout, as I expect him to be prepared for a 25 minute war, should the fight hit the judges’ scorecards. TJ Dillashaw (9-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) had his impressive four fight winning streak halted by Raphael Assuncao last October, but bounced back strongly four months ago with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Mike “The Hulk” Easton. With the UFC in need of an opponent for Barao to save this card and Assuncao being injured, the 28 year old was the next best choice. In fact, his training partner Urijah Faber asked for this fight inside the Octagon after his own unsuccessful bid for the title. Dillawshaw is a good striker with solid hands who has been showing constant improvement in his stand-up ever since working with Duane Ludwig. He works a solid jab, has a great uppercut, and often connects with his straight right hand. The Ultimate Fighter season 14 finalist is a well-rounded fighter who excels at everything. He is not just good in every area; he is great in every area. He is well-versed both on the feet and on the mat, as he is an excellent wrestler and has a solid submission game, both offensively and defensively. Dillashaw is very dangerous with his chokes, especially his guillotine. The Team Alpha Male product is an athlete with tremendous conditioning who will be prepared to go five hard rounds against the champion should the fight go the distance. Gabe’s Prediction: While Dillashaw has been consistently showing improvements in his striking game, I believe it is the Brazilian who will enter the five round main event title fight with the advantage on the feet. I don’t think the Team Alpha Male product will find success in taking Barao down, so if the fight does hit the mat, I think it will be on Barao’s terms. There is a chance Dillashaw could catch him, but that’s the only chance I’m giving him in this fight. I am expecting Barao to finish the fight, and unlike his past couple of finishes against Faber and Wineland which were controversial, I have a feeling this one won’t leave room for questions. I think it is either going to be a beautiful submission or a brutal knockout. Gabe’s Call: Barao by KO (counter-hook, 1:44, round 3) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Under 4.5 rounds (-175) 3.5u to win 2u, plus Barao (-800) parlayed with Cormier (-800) and Ferguson (-265) for -135 2.5u to win 1.85u

Written by Gabe Killian

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