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Breaking Down and Predicting UFC 173’s Main Event: Renan Barao Vs. TJ Dillashaw

May 24th, 2014 at 3:56 PM
By Steven J Cavagnino

Bantamweight king, Renan Barao has been making headlines recently as a man who should be considered as one of, if not the best, pound for pound fighters in the world. Dana White, UFC president, has openly stated that Barao should be considered as the top fighter in the world, regardless of weight class. Fighters, fans, and media members tend to agree; Barao’s recent performances, his undefeated record in the UFC and his outrageous 33 fight win streak are all enough to put him at the top of the list. 

TJ Dillashaw is looking to be the man to end it all for Renen Barao. Dillashaw wants to take this fight and, as a 9-1 underdog, prove the naysayers wrong and end the enormous hype behind Barao. If Dillashaw has his way, he’ll end Barao’s win streak, and prove himself to be one of MMA’s elite. When breaking this fight down, skill for skill, it will be a tough test for Dillashaw as Barao is one of the most complete fighters on the UFC’s roster. 

Striking

What Barao brings to the table in terms of striking is a wide array of lethal weapons. Barao has knockouts via straight punches, spinning kicks, and flying knees. He is explosive, and accurate. What he lacks in fundamentals and footwork, he makes up for in power and speed. He has 8 knockouts to his name and is coming off two explosive TKO victories. Dillashaw holds the advantage in technique, however. His last fight against Mike Easton is one of the most technically sound displays of striking in recent memory. Dillashaw is hardly ever out of position when kickboxing, he has been taught well and possesses a mastery of the fundamentals. His hands and feet are almost always in the right spot at any moment during the fight. Dillashaw also posseses knockout power, but with 3 knockouts to his name, he has a more point-fighting style that tends to wear fighters out over time. Barao’s power and accuracy will be too much for Dillashaw in this fight, and Dillashaw would be wise to attempt to take this fight to the mat. Advantage: Barao

Wrestling

This is the area of the fight that might be most telling. Dillashaw came into the UFC as a powerhouse wrestler, an explosive athlete who made a habit of running through his opponents and planting them on their backs. Since training with Duane Ludwig at Team Alpha Male, Dillashaw has improved his striking leaps and bounds, but, in reality, is still a wrestling-based fighter. He is a multiple time Pac-10 wrestler and in 2008 was ranked #10 in the nation. Dillashaw is without a doubt the better technical wrestler and has a much better resume coming into tonight’s fight. Renan Barao is no slouch in the wrestling department, though. His size and physicality is a huge advantage when he locks up with other fighters. He has one of the best takedown defense records in the UFC and has been able to stave off takedown attempts from fantastic wrestlers such as Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgenson. Barao tenda to use his wrestling defensively in the beginning of fights, beating his opponents up with kicks and punches and, only after they are worn down, will he looks for a takedown and a possible submission. That being said, Dillashaw is the better technical wrestler and might surprise Barao in this fight. Advantage: Dillashaw

Grappling

The submission game of Renan Barao has been nothing short of astounding. Owner of 14 submissions and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Barao is one of the most dangerous submission fighters, not only in the UFC but in MMA overall. Barao’s killer instinct is second to none as he frequently uses his strikes to set up the submission. His rear-naked choke victory over Brad Pickett is one of the most destructive and lethal finishing sequences the UFC has ever seen. When Barao sees the opportunity to finish the fight via submission he rarely fails. Dillashaw, coming into his MMA career as a wrestler, is already adept to the ground game. However, he uses his takedowns and transitions to set up strikes on the ground more so than submissions. Dillashaw has one submission in the UFC, but will typically take the fight to the ground looking for advantageous positions over submission holds. This area of the fight is most clear cut, with Barao getting the nod. Advantage: Barao 

What this fight brings to the table is high stakes for both men. With Barao getting as much attention as he has recently, he has more pressure on him than ever to perform up to the standards placed upon him. Dillashaw, although the underdog, has a massive amount of pressure to prove himself and back up his confidence. As a member of Team Alpha Male, there is a bit of a revenge aspect to the fight as well with TAM’s leader, Urijah Faber, having already lost to Renan Barao twice. Barao is looking to further cement his legacy while Dillashaw is looking to create his own. Overall, the odds on this fight are correct in placing Barao as the massive favorite and he’ll beat Dillashaw like he has beaten 33 straight opponents. 

 

Prediction: Renan Barao via TKO in Round 4

 

 

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Tags: Bantamweight, Brad Pickett, MMA, Renan Barão, TJ Dillashaw, UFC

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