Having decided to sleep through UFC 173 I awoke just as the fights ended to a chorus of tweets telling me what an idiot I was for purposely missing out. And they are right. I am an idiot. But, after scanning my way through the most important bits with the beautiful Irish sunrise in the background, here are my takeaways.
TJ DILLASHAW IS A MONSTER
Entering the fight against bantamweight title holder/Dana White’s #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Renan Barao, nobody (and I mean nobody) gave TJ Dillashaw a chance. How wrong we all were. From the word go, Dillashaw was on point. He was light on his feet, rapid with his hands and powerful with all of his weapons. Barao was mesmerized; he had no answer. It’s not often we watch a title fight in the UFC and the champion is an afterthought in what happened. Well he was last night.
TJ Dillashaw took the fight by the scruff of the neck and made it his. He dazzled Barao with his languid footwork in round one and dropped him with a D-bomb late in the period. In the second and third Dillashaw grew in confidence and worryingly began to trade with Barao toe-to-toe. The worry, though, was unwarranted because Dillashaw beat the Brazilian to almost every exchange and dominated every minute with a beautiful display of striking personified by his straight left down the pipe which was money all night.
In the championship rounds, Dillashaw reverted to the fast fierce fleet-footed fury of the first round. He hurt Barao again and stopped him in the last round when the pressure became just too much. What made this such an impressive performance was Dillashaw’s confidence. He looked like he was the champion in the early exchanges, he wasn’t tentative and, most importantly, he wasn’t afraid of Barao – a mistake others have been guilty of making. TJ Dillashaw put on a pitch perfect performance and is a worthy first team alpha male champion.
The Co-Main Mismatch
When this fight was announced I questioned why a commission would sanction it. You had a 43-year-old middleweight who hasn’t looked good in his last four fights against a heavyweight who looks unbeatable. This fight was made purely because Cormier needed an opponent. It made no sense and Henderson never had a chance. It really was a lose-lose for Daniel Cormier and even though he dominated Henderson in every area he proved nothing by doing it. Of course, Cormier was impressive In how he ragdolled Hendo, outstruck him and wrestled him into oblivion. But DC has ambitions of fighting Jon Jones who won’t be able to demolished like Henderson so easily was.
Cormier even called out the champion after his victory but with his only wins in the division coming against an outmatched duo of Patrick Cummins and Dan Henderson he may need one more fight to seal the deal, especially considering Jones already has his next dance partner.
Robbie Lawler Is Ruthless
A great man once said of Jake Ellenberger; he looks like a bull and fights like a butterfly. That great man, of course, was me and, of course, I was exactly right. Boxing King Floyd Mayweather constantly speaks about nobody having the blueprint to beat him: Jake Ellenberger is the exact opposite. Hit him hard early, push the pace and he will wilt. Well, Robbie Lawler isn’t nicknamed “Ruthless” for nothing. He pushed hard from the moment Herb Dean let him loose, striking high with kicks to the dome of “The Juggernaut”.
Jake had no answer and that old foe of a description came back to haunt him again – tentative. He was slow to strike, only throwing with looping right over-hands in the first two periods which were easily won by Lawler. After the second, Ellenberger was given perfect cornering advice; “get close, plant your feet and swing with both hands”. He did just that to begin the third and it almost paid dividends after he rocked his opponent with a lovely combo. Lawler, though, has a granite chin and walked through everything Ellenberger had.
Unfortunately, Ellenberger seemed to injury his power right hand and reverted to his gun-shy ways of early in the fight. He had nothing left and Lawler ruthlessly finished him off in the final round before calling out Johny Hendricks for a rematch. Now wouldn’t that be something!
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