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The Haters' Guide to UFC 173

Mookie Alexander and Patrick Wyman return with another installment of the Haters' Guide, a pre-event airing of grievances. This week's edition covers the lack of interest in Renan Barao, the constant re-tooling of UFC 173, and Dan Henderson.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Hey there! A very miserable Friday to our loyal legion of dick-riders, cretins, pea-brains, dunderheads, and dweebs. This is the newest edition of Haters' Guide, a series started by Patrick Wyman and myself (Mookie Alexander ... didn't you see who published it at the top?). We dissect the bigger UFC shows and pinpoint what needs to be torn to shreds ... much like the thongs some of our male readers are currently wearing right now.

We're going to be mostly honest with you in saying that UFC 173 isn't really worth our venomous vitriol. In part because the card itself looks promising on paper and also because Patrick Wyman is going to be attending this card live tomorrow night as he's in Las Vegas for his bachelor's party. Be on the lookout for a first-hand account of Patrick's bachelor's party next week, complete with all of the lurid details that will make your loins stir. Er ... wait, hang on, turns out it's about UFC 173. Oh well. Here's what we're talking about today:

Renan Barao is fighting! Wait, who's Renan Barao?

Mookie: Renan Barao is literally a monster. Barao has got a whole week dedicated to him on the Discovery Channel. He literally fishes people, which is why he's the Bassmaster champion on ESPN2 at 3 in the morning. Supposedly he's good at mixing the martial arts, which is why he's headlining UFC 173 this weekend. Barao hasn't lost a fight since his pro debut and has finished his last 3 opponents.

So how come the public doesn't know who the hell he is? How come his PPV buyrate is going to be lower than the college co-ed porno on channel 855 (aside from Patrick ordering it 7500 times over)? For someone who is such an exciting, young, and talented champion, why does no one care to pay to watch him do violence?

It might be because he's Brazilian, because he speaks no English, because most of our large-and-in-charge American countrymen have taken shits bigger than him, or because the UFC has no idea how to build a star in the Fox era. Winning your interim title on a card nobody watched and defending it first on Fuel TV and then on a pair of PPVs that didn't sell well, all of them in markets where you can't speak the language, isn't exactly going to put you at the forefront of MMA fans' consciousness.

What sucks about the whole thing is that he really is amazing. He can finish fights in any phase and at any range, and even if he doesn't get the knockout or the submission he's still probably going to put on a fast-paced, entertaining fight. This guy is everything we say we want in a champion, and nobody has the slightest fucking idea who he is.

Sure, this is partially on the UFC - put him on a big Fox card so he can do something awesome in front of a new audience, for shit's sake - but this is also on us, collectively, as fans of the sport. We should be preaching the gospel of Renan Barao to any asshole who'll listen like Saints Peter and Paul are threatening us with eternal damnation if we don't.

So I say this: go forth, my fellow connoisseurs of violence, and evangelize. Show them his spinning back kick finish of Eddie Wineland. Show them the absurd flurry with which he dropped Brad Pickett, which he followed with the slickest back-take in the history of MMA. Show him pounding Faber and begging Herb Dean to make him stop.

Preach, my friends, preach.

Mookie: Other factor - In a nation that prides itself on super-sizing everything from food to women's breasts to vehicles, we just don't like watching little people unless they're on TLC or Mini Kiss. What's our country's favorite sport? Football, a game filled with large men and bone crunching hits and physical freaks of nature making acrobatic catches. Our other favorite sport? Basketball. Tall guys putting a ball through a hoop. Short people are novelties (see Russell Wilson, Nate Robinson, Darren Sproles, etc.) in these sports and they become cult figures as a result of their tiny stature.

Renan Barao? He can't speak English, he's 5'6" and doesn't have the supermodel looks of Luke Rockhold. As sad as it is to say, many a fight fan would prefer to watch two subpar heavyweights engage in a sloppy slugfest where the winner gets a year's supply of Taco Bell Breakfast items than see elite guys in smaller weight classes have a classic war of fast-paced attrition because there might not be a KO nor will it look violent. I can't completely fault the UFC this time around for the lack of interest in Barao, as it seems embedded in our culture to not care to begin with.

Patrick: *cue Randy Newman's "Short People"*

Musical Cards

Mookie: Remember when UFC 173 was first announced? It was going to be Vitor-Weidman, then Machida-Weidman, now it's Barao-Dillashaw. What about that co-main event? Chael-Wanderlei, then JDS-Miocic, then Lawler-Ellenberger, and now it's Hendo-Cormier. This card has been fixed more than Joan Rivers' face but thankfully it's not as mangled as neither Rivers nor Kenny Rogers'. It's a stretch to bitch about UFC 173 as a PPV spectacle because it's actually turned into a good show on paper. But this is Haters' Guide and we will find a way, and if you're annoyed about our bitching then you're either bad at reading (which puts you in the same bucket as Dana White) or Floridian.

Why has the UFC been so frantic with moving things around? For one, their champs can't stay healthy. There's also the matter of having 253 shows and a roster larger than Rhode Island's population, so they have to spread the talent around. End result? PPVs take it in the ass and you're left with maybe 4-5 quality PPVs per year out of the 13 or 14 that they run.

Patrick: I'm going to this card for my bachelor party, and we started planning back when the headliner was supposed to be Vitor-Weidman. All I wanted to see was a roided-up, clinically insane guy with a haircut reminiscent of an 80s Poison enthusiast commit unspeakable acts of violence. Is that so much to ask? Apparently so.

Like Mookie said, this has actually turned out to be a pretty excellent card - I'd trek into the Himalayas to watch Renan Barao fight a whole crew of Sherpas if that were the plan - but the musical cards thing is pretty fucking annoying if you're actually planning on going to the fights.

Hendo's Quick Turnaround

Mookie: Dan Henderson is an untouchable god to some. If he were to fight Cain Velasquez right now someone would say "Hendo by H-Bomb" because there are many annoying people on this planet. It's really an overly simplistic type of analysis that abandons reason for fights like this where he's almost a certainty to get ripped to pieces by Daniel Cormier. If he wanted to, Cormier could literally win this with one hand punching Hendo and the other holding a bucket of Popeye's Chicken and a biscuit in his mouth in place of a mouthpiece. This fight is being made because Cormier needed someone in the top 10, and the current top 10 is mostly injured and/or coming off a loss, not because it's legitimately competitive. That Henderson is still (deservedly) in the top 10 speaks to his ability to stay relevant but also how bad the bottom rung of the ladder is that there are just no prospects worth talking about.

Henderson fought less than two months ago against Mauricio Rua, who was easily up 2 rounds to nil and dropped Henderson twice. Let's not get things twisted, Henderson was getting whipped before he uncorked his TRT-infused right hand of justice. And yet here he is fighting again as a massive underdog to someone who is much better than the 2014 version of Shogun. I'd probably argue that Robbie Lawler was rushed too quickly after his war with Hendricks, but he's not accumulated nearly the damage as Henderson has. This goes back to the discussion over musical cards. UFC 173 was looking like a shitty PPV and they had to pull some strings to get guys to fight this weekend. It worked out for the better but it's not necessarily worth duplication.

Patrick: This will be Henderson's fifth fight in fifteen months. That's a hell of a lot of wear and tear for a guy who's been fighting since before anybody had ever heard of Monica Lewinsky, especially when he was beaten like the rented mule of a red-headed stepchild in his last two fights. Yes, I realize he landed a miracle right hand against Shogun, but he was getting utterly shit-kicked before that, and that's the Dan Henderson we're likely to see moving forward.

Even otherwise level-headed members of the MMA media (I'm looking at you, Josh Gross) love Hendo in a way that's usually reserved for elderly, sweet-natured Labrador Retrievers, and this produces a sort of willful blindness about his obvious career decline. Aside from that lone punch against Rua and a few scattered moments - just moments, not consistent performances - the last time Hendo really looked like himself was in the first three rounds of the first Shogun fight. That was two and a half years ago, for those of you scoring at home.

An eighty-year-old Hendo will still probably be able to put pestering whippersnappers to sleep with one vicious right hand, but that doesn't mean we should keep running him out there just to see if he can. We don't need to take Ol' Yeller out back and finish him off - in Henderson's case, the bullet would probably just bounce off anyway - but fighting on such a short turnaround is really, really bad for a guy with this much mileage.


The next edition of Haters' Guide will be for UFC 174, when an even smaller person  you don't give enough of a damn about (Demetrious Johnson) headlines his first ever PPV. Until then, we hope your grill explodes while you're cooking your leather-tasting burger patties on Memorial Day Weekend.