There are few things as exciting as the upset in professional sports. On Saturday, May 24 2014 the world of mixed martial arts experienced what is perhaps the biggest upset in the sport as T.J. Dillashaw defeated Renan Barao to become the new bantamweight champion.
Coming into UFC 173 Dillashaw was a 9-1 betting underdog in some places, but that didn't stop him from beating Barao handily. From the start of the contest he would dominant the Brazilian champion in a way that had never occurred. The end came at 2:26 into the fifth round when Dillashaw landed a head kick then followed up to punches on his grounded opponent.
Barao had not been defeated for nearly ten years as he put together a 33 fight unbeaten streak that was nearly three times as long as T.J.'s entire career.
Daniel Cormier put on a showcase in the co-main event of the night as he trounced former champion Dan Henderson. Henderson was outclassed right from the start as he was thrown around by another former Olympic wrestler. Cormier would become only the fourth man to submit Hendo when he forced the tap out via rear-naked choke at 3:53 in the third.
Cormier would waste no time as he would call out the current light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, once again. Even though Henderson is 43 years of age and has accomplished a lot in the sport of MMA, he would mention that he may return to the 185 pound division to continue his fight career.
Robbie Lawler would get back on the winning track as he stopped Jake Ellenberger in the third round of their welterweight affair. “Ruthless” had an answer for everything that Jake brought to the table and has solidified his place as one of the top contenders at 170 pounds.
Lawler started out strongly as he landed multiple body kicks that forced Ellenberger to back peddle. From that point forward, Jake struggled to get any offense going until the third round when he started to land heavy shots. That was until Robbie would land a crisp jab followed up by a jumping knee to drop his opponent and set up the finish.
Takeya Mizugaki and Francisco Rivera both had a lot on the line coming into their fight at 135 pounds as both competitors have been on length runs. In a back and forth bout, Takeya would get the division victory and move further up the ladder.
Mizugaki and Rivera would trade on both the feet and on the floor with Takeya looking to be a slight favorite on the judges's cards at the sound of each bell. He would seal the bout in the third round when he would spend most of the time in Rivera's guard. This would be Mizugaki's fifth straight win in two years to improve to 20-7.
James Krause and Jamie Varner would open up the night in the lightweight division. While Krause would get the win due to an ankle injury, it would be Varner who would walk out of the cage to cheers.
At some point in the first round Varner would misstep and severely damage his ankle. From that point on he would basically fight on one foot as he stumbled and fell throughout the cage. Still, he would never stop fighting back and it wouldn't be until the end of the round that the referee had the opportunity to check his ankle and see how bad the damage actually was. The fight was immediately stopped and Varner was helped out of the cage to a standing ovation.
When UFC 173 was announced the original idea was to place Chris Weidman against Vitor Belfort which would change to Lyoto Machida. An injury would force that fight from the card and it was replaced by Renan Barao versus T.J. Dillashaw. Fans did not believe the fight was as exciting as promoted but all of the bouts on the evening delivered from start to finish. With so many stories to come out of the results, it will be interesting to see how the MMA world will respond to the underdog turned champion in T.J. Dillashaw.