Hello MMA fans, this is National MMA Examiner Ryan McKinnell reporting live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., for UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw. Tonight we'll be bringing you minute-by-minute updates of the happenings surrounding UFC 173. The format will be similar to what Examiner brought you for UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann back in February.
Of course, traditional results will appear -- and they will be listed in bold print next to their time stamps. However, this page will give updates on all the goodies happening in Vegas in and around the arena. Whether it be rumors, play-by-play, celebrities in attendance, or just general thoughts, this will be a chronological recording of tonight's fights.
The main event of UFC 173 features a matchup of perennial pound-for-pound bantamweight kind Renan Barao taking on Team Alpha Male standout, TJ Dillashaw. Dillashaw, the season 14 winner of The Ultimate Fighter, is looking to dethrone the Brazilian phenom and hand the champ his first loss in 34 fights.
Also on the card is a intriguing co-main event match-up between Daniel Cormier -- who is making his second appearance at light heavyweight after a successful, and undefeated run at heavyweight -- and MMA legend Dan Henderson.
Finally, a welterweight showdown between the hard-hitting MMA veteran Robbie Lawler and Jake Ellenberger highlights the main card action. Lawler is one fight removed from his classic brawl with welterweight champion Johny Hendricks back in March and is looking to jump right back in title contention with a victory over "The Juggernaut."
So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the fights!
Note: if you missed any of my fight-week features with Robbie Lawler, Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier, they can be found HERE.
3:56 pm PST -- First fight is in the books as Li Jingliang defeats David Michaud via split-decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27). Solid fight from what I saw, but admittedly I wasn't paying close attention, as I was still setting up for tonight's fights.
4:00 -- Featherweights Sam Sicilia and Aaron Phillips walking to the cage now.
4:08 -- Sicilia and Phillips are about four minutes into their scrap and it's been a fun fight thus far. Both men are bringing a high output approach and are continually working. Headed to the second round in 15 seconds.
4:23 -- Sam Sicilia defeats Aaron Phillips via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
4:30 -- Lightweight bout between Anthony Njokuani and Vinc Pachel is up next at UFC 173.
4:43 -- Round two of Njokuani and Pachel is underway. Around the three-minute mark, Njokuani gets stunned by Pachel and is reeling on the ground as his opponent keeps the pressure coming.
4:47 -- Quotes from earlier fights already in the books:
“We really didn’t expect him to be that tough out there. He was much stronger than I expected too. I’m going to stay strong and keep working with my wonderful coaches. I’m the next Bruce Lee. Wait and see.”
“He was just too tough for me. I hurt my hand at some point and he really messed my toe up on one of the takedowns. It’s pretty swollen now but it didn’t affect my in the fight. Hats off to him.”
“I went at him hard. I had a lot of bumps and bruises coming into this one and I really had to dig deep. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get wins because lately I’ve found myself on the chopping block. I was able to pull it off on a bad day so hopefully I can string a few together and let the pressure fade.
4:48 -- Third round of Njokuani and Pachel is underway. Pachel seems to have the advantage as Njokuani tries to establish some consistency with his jab.
4:50 -- No surprise here, as this is a regular occurrence, but Nick Diaz is in Vegas and on his way to the MGM. Last reports that were available to Examiner, Nick Diaz is still not willing to compete in the UFC under his current contract, and that doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.
4:53 -- Vinc Pachel defeats Anthony Njokuani via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
4:54 -- Next up is New York's own Al Iaquinta taking on Canadian Mitch Clarke in a lightweight showdown. This fight begins the Fox Sports 1 preliminary portion of the card.
5:11 -- Iaquinta and Clarke are off and running. Chants of "Ia-quinta!" ring throughout the MGM Grand Garden.
5:13 -- The New York-native, Iaquinta, drops Clarke early with a stiff shot. Now, on the ground, the Serra-Longo product is looking to improve position and control the remainder of the round.
5:16 -- Iaquinta dominates the majority of the round while inside Clarke's guard. He lands elbows, punches and keeps the pressure on throughout. On to the second round momentarily.
5:17 -- Post-fight quotes from Pachel vs. Njokuani:
“When I gouged him and kneed him it was a total accident. I honestly think I got poked in the eye too. Once I got the first takedown and felt his strength and lack of defense on the ground I knew I had the fight. Hats off to Anthony, he’s a tough guy but I’m glad I got the win tonight.”
“I know he didn’t mean to do it but those fouls in the first round really threw me off and affected my focus. It hurts pretty badly because I know that it was my fight tonight. I don’t want to make excuses but the poke and low blow really made the difference out there.”
5:19 -- In a spectacular, and quite stunning second-round, Canadian Mitch Clarke gets ahold of Iaquinta early in the round and sinks in -- what looked to be -- a d'arce choke. Iaquinta passes out, the ref checks on an unconscious Iaquinta who refused to tap, and the fight is over! Mitch Clarke defeats Al Iaquinta via submission at :57 of round 2.
5:29 -- A bantamweight showdown between TUF 18 winner and Team Alpha Male star, Chris Holdsworth and Wisconsin-native Chico Camus is up next at UFC 173.
5:34 -- The first three minutes of Holdsworth-Camus is all stand up -- which may come as a surprise, as Holdsworth is predominantly considered a jiujitsu specialist. At the two-minute mark, Holdsworth earns a trip-takedown and is now working to pass Camus' guard.
5:38 -- Having lost round one rather convincingly, Camus opens the second stanza with increased pressure. Holdsworth deals with it well, and uses his jab to keep the midwesterner at bay.
5:40 -- Midway through the second round, Holdsworth gets the action the ground. It looks as if, for a brief moment, that Holdsworth has an arm-triangle choke secured, but Camus rolls out and escapes the Gracie black-belt's attempt. Soon after, Holdsworth finds himself in mount, once again, looking to sink in an arm-triangle. And it's close...
5:43 -- Camus holds on and earns a trip into the third round.
5:45 -- It takes Holdsworth all of one minute to get Camus to the mat at the start of round 3. Judging from the way the previous 10 minutes played out, I wouldn't expect a comeback from Camus here; Holdsworth has dominated throughout and looked rather impressive in doing so.
5:51 -- Chris Holdsworth defeats Chico Camus via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). Great fight here by Holdsworth. The fight showed his progression as an obvious prospect to watch, and it marks the first time he has went past round 2 in his entire professional or amateur career. Media row seems to be buzzing about Holdsworth future, and ever-increasing skill-set, and rightfully so.
5:55 -- Next up is a welterweight meeting between TUF 13 winner Tony Ferguson and Japanese star Katsunori Kikuno. The Kagoshima-native is riding a six-fight win streak into his meeting with Ferguson, and this writer predicts Ferguson-Kikuno to be the showcase fight of the FS1 portion of the card.
6:01 -- Immediate action from these two. Kikuno fighting with his hands down, eating a ton of jabs and straight rights. He's getting boxed-up. Ferguson stuns him and Kikuno is reeling!
6:03 -- It seems as if Kikuno has recovered a bit, as the two fighters clinch against the cage. However, just as I type that, Kikuno backs away and seems to be avoiding the pressure of Ferguson out of necessity. Ferguson tags him again and the Japanese fighter turns his back to the former TUF champion, and runs in the other direction. Ferguson chases him down, jumps on his back, and works into a d'arce choke. He has Kikuno in deep trouble -- he's straining! But Kikuno pulls out! Wow, very impressive, even if he's getting beat pillar-to-post.
6:05 -- That's it. Ferguson finally caught up to Kikuno's toughness and put him away with a super clean KO late into the first round. Official results to follow. A very aggressive Tony Ferguson here at UFC 173.
6:06 -- Tony Ferguson defeats Katsunori Kikuno via KO at 4:06 of round 1.
6:12 -- Quotes from Al Iaquinta and Mitch Clarke from a bout earlier in the night:
“I tried to stay long and keep my range out there while I was feeling him out but he clipped me and my legs turned to jelly. He wouldn’t give me any space and I really had to fight to recover. He caught me with an elbow in the back of the head and I tried to survive the round. Once we were back on our feet and he threw a leg kick I started feeling more comfortable because Thai boxing is what I love to do. I threw a hard right and hurt him but I was a little anxious coming in and got out of position. He went for a Von Flue choke but I was able to turn him and sink in a little choke of my own. I knew I had that d’arce right away. That’s my money move. I heard him gurgling and my coaches yelling out to grab his leg. I felt him go out and I couldn’t be happier for the win. I’m ready for a real run at this title. It’s my time.”
“I was doing well up to that point. I got caught so what can I say.”
6:22 -- Entering the cage at this moment are lightweights Francisco Trinaldo and TUF 15 winner Michael Chiesa. Both fighters started their careers in 2006 and are coming off wins in their last fight. For Chiesa, he looks to improve to 4-1 inside the Octagon, and Trinaldo 5-2, respectively.
6:25 -- Trinaldo hurts Chiesa to the body early with a lead hook. Chiesa is backpedaling and does his best to clinch with the Brazilian looking to take it to the mat. Chiesa eventually earns a trip-takedown as Trinaldo looks to stand up. Chiesa now has achieved full-mount and is looking to inflict damage.
6:28 -- Chiesa is still in full-mount dropping vicious elbows to the face of Trinaldo. The horn sounds on the first round, but the Brazilian was abused badly for the final few minutes of that round. You have to wonder how much he has left in the tank.
6:30 -- Trinaldo opens the second frame looking somewhat fresh, which is surprising. The 35-year-old Brazilian is popping his jab and looking to strike with Chiesa.
6:32 -- Trinaldo hurts Chiesa as he peppers him with strikes, backing him up against the cage. "Massaranduba" sees Chiesa's neck is open so he latches on to a standing guillotine and attempts to pull guard. Chiesa crashes to the mat. The choke seems incredibly deep. Chiesa pulls out and now finds himself in Trinaldo's guard! Great action.
6:35 -- Chiesa controls the rest of the round from inside Trinaldo's guard. He wins round 2, and Trinaldo will need a finish in the third to come out of this fight victorious.
6:38 -- It takes two minutes into the final frame for Chiesa to earn a takedown. He's playing in the Brazilian's guard as we speak, and if this round is anything like the previous two, then this fight is a wrap.
6:43 -- Michael Chiesa defeats Francisco Trinaldo via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27).
7:00 -- The PPV portion of UFC 173 kicks off now! First up is a lightweight bout between Jamie Varner versus James Krause. Varner, the 29-year-old Phoenix-native is looking to rebound after suffering back-to-back defeats in his last two fights. Krause, 27, is looking to redeem himself after losing to Bobby Green (his first loss in the company) at UFC: Fight For the Troops back in Nov. 2013.
7:08 -- Quotes from earlier fights that happened at UFC 173:
“I felt great out there! I’m always looking for the finish so that aspect of the fight is a little disappointing. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch but we got the job done. He’s a veteran with four wins in the UFC so I think he was a great opponent for me to show what I can do. In a weird way I’m happy it went to a decision because I wanted to prove to myself and to the fans that I can go three hard rounds. I’m ready to spend some time with my family and meet my baby niece for the first time. I think I’ve earned a little time but not much… I want to get back out there as soon as possible.”
“He’s a good sport and I enjoyed competing with him. I really didn’t want to get mesmerized by that stance and I think the low hands clearly played to my advantage. When he hit me I wanted to get up and go right back at him. In my previous fights I was missing one key element… Muay Thai. I’ve shored up that hole and now I’m a complete fighter out there. He gave me the fight that I wanted which was a close blow-for-blow stand up battle. My team and I have a great vibe going and I have a full tool box so we’re ready to make some waves at 155 pounds.”
“The stance is just part of my style. He was the better fighter tonight and landed the better blows.”
“I hurt my elbow on his very tough chin but it was worth it. This guy was tough as hell. He made me look like a genius when he was fighting with his hands down. The choke was pretty tight but all I had to do was keep my hips high and I could breath. It honestly looked a whole lot worse than it was. I think that was my best fight thus far because we went three hard rounds. I fought the ugly fight that I wanted and came up on top. I can’t wait to head out to my buddy Sam Sicilia’s cabin on the lake for a little rest and hibernation.”
“I was very close to closing him out with that choke. I also would’ve finished the armbar but I made a small mistake and forgot to close up my hands. He was very tough and he deserved the victory tonight.”
7:10 -- Varner and Krause currently making their walks to the cage.
7:17 -- Early into the first round Krause stuns Varner. He looks to follow up but Varner recovers on the ground. Now, back on the feet, Krause peppers Varner with a variety of strikes. Varner earns a takedown, Krause grabs a guillotine and uses it to transition into mount, then half-guard. Krause in half-guard now looking to control the action.
7:21 -- Krause was bringing a heavy onslaught of attacks and during the course of an exchange, Varner appeared to roll his ankle. He could be heard cage-side saying, "I broke it [the ankle]." This fight is over, folks. James Krause defeats Jamie Varner via TKO at 5:00 of round 1.
7:25 -- Next up inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena is a bantamweight tilt between Japanese MMA veteran Takeya Mizugaki and Francisco Rivera. Both fighters competed in the now-defunct WEC promotion, and have been a staple of the 135-pound division for a number of years. This fight has all the makings of a high pace, action-packed MMA scrap.
7:35 -- Rivera and Mizugaki meet in the center of the cage and we are off!
7:37 -- Mizugaki clips Rivera early! Rivera tries to "surfboard" out of it and keep his composure, but the Japanese star puts on the pressure, and lands some follow up shots. Later in the round, Rivera has seemed to recover and is back to making things interesting. They separate and come together with a flurry of strikes with regularity.
7:39 -- Round 1 ends with a flurry as the crowd roars in approval -- definitely one of the bigger ovations of the night. I'd say the MGM Grand is around 95% capacity.
7:41 -- Both fighters begging the second round with wild flurries. In and out, back and forth, there is plenty of leather being slung inside the Octagon in this one. At the three-minute mark, Rivera drops for a guillotine on Mizugaki and is cranking.
7:43 -- Mizugaki escapes the submission attempt and is in Rivera's half-guard landing punches while his opponent is pressed against the cage with his back against the wall.
7:46 -- Mizugaki ends the round on Rivera's back looking for a rear-naked choke; although, it was never very close, as Rivera did a solid job of tucking his job in what was textbook submission defense.
7:49 -- Rivera gets dropped by Mizugaki early in the third round. It was a solid shot that, for a second, looked like it spelled the end for Rivera; however, Rivera recovered and is trying to stall Mizugaki inside his guard.
7:51 -- One minute left in the final frame and the action is back to standing. Both fighters are cut and bleeding. They are swinging without regard for their body or well-being. This is a wild scrap as the crowd roars to their feet as the 15 minutes are up. Great, great fight. Official results to follow.
7:54 -- Takeya Mizugaki defeats Francisco Rivera via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).
7:55 -- A featured welterweight between MMA veteran and fan-favorite Robbie Lawler taking on "The Juggernaut" Jake Ellenberger. Lawler is coming off a Fight of the Year candidate against welterweight champion Johny Hendricks back in March and is looking to jump right back in the title hunt. Tons of power in this one, folks. Stay tuned.
7:59 -- A quote from James Krause about his fight with Jamie Varner:
“One of the things we worked on was kicking the calfs. I threw one and Jamie lifted his knee to check it. I felt the contact with his ankle and when he stepped back I saw that he had injured it. After that I started to target the ankle and unfortunately he wasn’t able to answer the second round. You never want to see an opponent get hurt out there but I especially didn’t want to see Varner get injured. I’m a big fan and I looked up to him. I know that we could’ve given the fans a great three round fight if we had the opportunity. Hats off to him and I wish him a full and speedy recovery.”
8:05 -- Lawler vs. Ellenberger is underway. 30-seconds in, and the action is subdued. Lots of respect being shown. High kick by Lawler rocks Ellenberger, but he remains composed. Huge body kick by Lawler and he's starting to tee-off. This could get nasty.
8:10 -- Lawler takes round 1 as Ellenberger seems overly cautious and only tries a few real offensive moves. On to the second frame now.
8:16 -- "Ruthless" is just stalking his foe around the cage and hitting him with power shots during each exchange. All Ellenberger can seem to muster is a single power-shot here and there. Lawler is throwing combinations with regularity. Lawler is briefly taken down, but he quickly scrambles to his feet. With one minute remaining in the second round, Ellenberger shoots a power-double and gets Lawler to the canvas. Lawler, once again, stands up after a few seconds. The round ends on the feet with Lawler pressing.
8:18 -- Ellenberger opening the third round MUCH more aggressive. He seems to know he's down two rounds. He hits Lawler with a bevy of power shots, but Ruthless survives and begins to pressure Ellenberger back. Lawler lands a crisp hook against the cage that has his opponent stunned briefly.
8:20 -- Lawler lands a slick jab that busts Ellenberger in the eye; he retreats while blinking rapidly to the seemingly injured eye. Lawler smells blood and lunges in. He lands a few shots to the body and covers up. With Ellenberger curling up to protect his body, Lawler rips a devastating knee to the face of his opponent. Ellenberger goes down in a heap, and referee Herb Dean halts the action soon after. Lawler erupts in elation and points at his old Miletich teammate and UFC hall-of-famer Matt Hughes, who is giving his buddy a standing ovation. Robbie Lawler defeats Jake Ellenberger via TKO at 3:06 of round 3.
8:24 -- Lawler is huffing and puffing as he passes press row, obviously still very much fired up.
8:25 -- Next up at UFC 173 is the co-main event. Two former Olympians battle it out inside the Octagon, as Dan Henderson meets Daniel Cormier in a light heavyweight attraction.
8:34 -- Cormier and Henderson in the cage. We're about ready to go. Cormier looks to be in INCREDIBLE shape -- the best I've ever seen for the former heavyweight. He looks solid.
8:35 -- We're off with the co-main event of UFC 173!
8:36 -- In a rather telling visual, Cormier scoops Henderson high into the air just seconds into the fight and flips him on his back. That is something you don't see happen to Henderson everyday -- if ever. Cormier landing effective ground and pound as Henderson looks to rise from the canvas. Cormier is just using ridiculous control right now.
8:40 -- Henderson somehow rises to his feet with just under a minute left, after being rag-dolled for the majority of the round. Cormier goes for a takedown as the round ends, but Henderson turns him into the cage and they clinch as the horn sounds. On to the second round...
8:44 -- More of the same in round 2; Cormier earns an early takedown and is pummeling Henderson on the ground while maintaing expert-level control. It's a beautiful display by two highly skilled athletes, even though the fans are booing.
8:47 -- Round 3 is set to begin, and Henderson needs to finish if he wants the victory.
8:49 -- Similar to round 1, Cormier picks up Henderson very early into the final round and slams Henderson on his head. It was one of the most picturesque and domineering slams I've ever seen in my life. To say I'm slack-jawed may be an understatement. This fight seems to be all Cormier, as most predicted.
8:52 -- It's over, folks. DC finally puts Hendo away with a rear-naked choke midway through the third round. Amazing performance by Cormier. 3:53 Daniel Cormier defeats Dan Henderson via submission at 3:53 of round 3. Cormier calls out Jon Jones and warns he should fight him soon, because, "I'm only getting better."
8:56 -- Quotes from earlier fights in the night:
“He’s a hard puncher and a striker. We have the same game so I was very excited to get into the Octagon and compete against him. I think I had an OK performance. I definitely landed some good shots but it could’ve been better. Thanks so much to my fans who cheer for me every time. You still haven’t seen the best of me. I’ll be back even better.”
“I broke my hand in the first round. I threw a punch and it started going numb out there. I thought it was a good fight and I hope we get fight of the night.”
“I wanted to get in there and really push him to get the stoppage. I hit him with that one two and followed it up when he went down. I have great coaches who guided me through this quick two month turn around after my last fight. I felt strong out there because they never let my body get weak during training. I had plenty of time to rest and fight of the fatigue of back to back camps. I’m going to go home and see my wife son who I haven’t been able to see. I’m not going to ask for any fights. I’m going to let the UFC brass decide what’s next but they know exactly what I want.”
8:58 -- The main event of UFC 173 is up next as bantamweight champion Renan Barao meets TJ Dillashaw.
9:10 -- Dillashaw and Barao are inside the cage and we're just seconds from being underway.
9:12 -- The familiar Portuguese chant, "You're gonna die!" rings throughout the arena as the fighters touch gloves. We are underway for the main event at UFC 173.
9:14 -- Chants of, "USA!" now begin, followed quickly by, "Brasil!" Dillashaw looks to be quite confident given his huge underdog billing. He really looks good two minutes in.
9:18 -- Dillashaw drops Barao in the final minute of round 1! Barao is HURT! He's trying to survive! Dillashaw gets a rear-naked choke! The round ends. The crowd erupts. We have a massive upset brewing in Vegas, folks. Wow.
9:21 -- Midway through the second stanza and Dillashaw remains steadfast. He's beating Barao up on the feet despite being cut above his right eye.
9:23 -- Dillashaw takes a vicious groin shot and the action is briefly halted. We're back to fighting soon after.
9:26 -- Dillashaw finished round 2 with authority! Lead rights, stiff punches, and he backs up Barao at every turn. Dillashaw is complete control of this fight, and everyone inside the MGM Grand is on the edge of their seat. Round 3 underway now.
9:28 -- Barao ultra-aggressive to open the third round, but Dillashaw fights back and has him hurt! They're both bleeding now, and they both seem fresh, despite being almost 13 minutes into the fight. This is a classic thus far.
9:31 -- Dillashaw ends round 3 just dominating Barao in every facet. I have him up 30-26 headed into the 'championship rounds.' Barao will need to win, and win authoritatively if he is to remain champion; most likely, he'll need a finish.
9:38 -- Round 4 was every bit the beating that the other previous three were. This fight is headed to the final round and TJ Dillashaw is five minutes away from being UFC bantamweight champion.
9:42 -- That's it, folks! Dillashaw clips Barao with a head kick, and he crumples to the canvas. Dillashaw comes in with some follow-up shots, and the ref waves it off. Ladies and gentlemen, TJ Dillashaw becomes the first fighter from Team Alpha Male to win a UFC championship. TJ Dillashaw defeats Renan Barao at 2:26 of round 5 via TKO
9:44 -- That's it for me, friends. I sincerely hope you enjoyed the coverage. This was a wild night.