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UFC 173 fight card primer: Renan Barao vs TJ Dillashaw

Bloody Elbow presents a preview of UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw in our fight card primer series. Here we look at the main event: Renan Barao vs. TJ Dillashaw for the UFC Bantamweight title.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In the main event at UFC 173, UFC Bantamweight champion Renan Barao (32-1(1) MMA; 7-0 UFC) defends his belt against T.J. Dillashaw (9-2 MMA; 5-2 UFC). This five round Bantamweight title fight headlines the five fight UFC 173 PPV main card. The UFC Rankings have Dillashaw as the #4 contender at 135 pounds, with champion Barao at #3 on the pound for pound list. UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw airs live from Las Vegas this Saturday, May 24. The main card airs on PPV with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT, with the prelims starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fight Pass, and 8:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Heading into this fight, Dana White has been hyping Barao up as the #1 pound for pound fighter in the world. That feels like a bit of a stretch, but it is nice to see the UFC marketing their fight behind the strength of the champion, not the strength of the challenger. Barao is definitely one of the sport's very elite fighters right now, and has joined the ranks of Jose Aldo and Jon Jones as must watch fighters. Hard to say if Dillashaw will pose much of a challenge for him, but that doesn't mean you should skip watching a great like Barao perform.

How do these two stack up?

Barao: 27 years old | 5'7" | 70" reach
Dillashaw: 28 years old | 5'6" | 66" reach

What have these two done recently?

Barao: W - Urijah Faber (TKO) | W - Eddie Wineland (TKO) | W - Michael McDonald (Sub)
Dillashaw: W - Mike Easton (UD) | L - Raphael Assuncao (SD) | W - Hugo Viana (TKO)

How did these two get here?

Renan Barao has been on an unstoppable rampage since coming to the UFC - and in fact, for far longer than that. His undefeated streak stretches back to his debut fight in 2005. If he can hold onto his UFC gold for another 11 months, he'll be 10 years undefeated. That's impressive. The Nova Uniao product is the complete package, with great striking, a slick ground game, and the ability to end his fights quickly. He's been dominant in this division ever since Dominick Cruz's injury - is there anyone at Bantamweight who can give him a run?

T.J. Dillashaw is a Team Alpha Male training partner of Barao's last victim Urijah Faber. After losing his UFC debut in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter, Dillashaw has shown solid improvement, going on a 5-1 streak. He was originally set to face Takeya Mizugaki on this card, but was bumped up when the show was in need of a main event. A fight with Mizugaki felt like a bit of a step backwards for Dillashaw, but this is a huge step forward. Dillashaw feels like he should be maybe 2 wins away from a title shot. Instead, he's been handed that shot now. Can he make the most of it?

Why should you care?

Because Renan Barao.