UFC 173 Main Card Picks & Preview: Barao's streak, DC vs. Hendo, more!



UFC 173

By Josh Nason, Wrestling Observer

Greetings from sunny and hot Daytona Beach, Florida, where I’m filing this while watching lots of sun-soaked rednecks get their Memorial Day on. This is a very brief edition of the UFC picks as my fiancee is about to slit my throat for “working”. How dare she!

It's time for UFC 173, an event that "the critics" say is must-watch according to some interesting advertising Zuffa has put out there. Haters aside, there are some good fights on the card, but I don't consider this a must-see $54.95 commitment.

*****

Our panel:

Mike Sawyer (40-14 - .740): ToughTalkMMA, co-host of Tough Talk

- Josh Nason (40-14 - .740): Wrestling Observer behind-the-scenes guy, WON on Twitter

- Front Row Brian (39-15 - .722): MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality

John Pollock (38-16 - .703): Fight Network personality, Live Audio Wrestling host

Dave Meltzer (37-17 - .685): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

Todd Martin (37-17 - .685): Weekly FFD guest | LA Times | Sherdog

Mike Sempervive (35-19 - .648): Wrestling Observer Live co-host | Big Audio Nightmare

- Steve Juon (33-21 | .611): Wrestling Observer MMA reporter, AngryMarks founder

- Lance Storm (32-22 | .592): former pro wrestling star, FFD guest, Storm Wrestling Academy founder

Oliver Copp (32-22 | .592): Combat sports insider, co-host of Tough Talk

*****

135-champ Renan Barao (32-1-0-1) vs. T.J. Dillashaw (9-2)

You know the deal with Barao: ridiculous winning streak but isn't a PPV draw. He's dispatched of all his UFC opponents rather handily, and Dillashaw will likely be the latest lamb led to slaughter. This event needed a title fight and they got one, but "most critics" would agree that this is way too soon for Dillashaw to get his shot. In any case, here you go.

Barao: Nason, FRB, Sempervive, Storm, Martin, Sawyer, Juon, Pollock, Copp, Meltzer

Dan Henderson (30-11) vs. Daniel Cormier (14-0)

The real main event of the show has stakes: the winner gets a title shot at the winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson. The undefeated Cormier was last seen dispatching super-late injury replacement Patrick Cummins, while Henderson blasted Shogun Rua in a classic Hendo comeback fight earlier this year. Hendo has the H-Bomb right hand, but Cormier has had no issues with any of the steps up in competition so far. Don't expect that to change Saturday.

DC: Nason, FRB, Sempervive, Storm, Martin, Sawyer, Juon, Pollock, Copp, Meltzer

Robbie Lawler (22-10-0-1) vs. Jake Ellenberger (29-7)

Lawler is coming off a great effort in the vacant welterweight title fight with Johny Hendricks, snapping a three-fight win streak. Ellenberger has been on the shelf since last July in a boring decison loss to Rory MacDonald due to injuries and fights falling through. A once rising star, Ellenberger has been plagued by a case of the blahs when it comes to excitement. Lawler has made the most of his recent UFC run and likely will do the same Saturday.

Lawler: Sempervive, Storm, Martin, Sawyer, Juon, Pollock, Copp, Meltzer, Nason
Ellenberger: FRB

Takeya Mizugaki (19-7-2) vs. Francisco Rivera (10-2-0-1)

When was the last time Mizugaki fought on a UFC ppv main card? Ever? He's quietly put together a four fight win streak, going the distance in all of them. Rivera is unbeaten in his last six and has 2nd round TKO wins in his last two.

Mizugaki: FRB, Sempervive, Storm, Martin, Sawyer, Juon, Pollock, Meltzer, Nason
Rivera: Copp

Jamie Varner (21-9-1-2) vs. James Krause (20-5)

Varner has lost his last two and was flatlined by Abel Trujilo in his last appearance. Krause saw an eight-fight winning streak snapped by Bobby Green in November.

Varner: Sempervive, Storm, Martin, Pollock, Copp, Meltzer
Krause: FRB, Sawyer, Juon, Nason

Coverage here starting with the prelims. Back to the sun!

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