UFC 173: Renan Barao to seize stardom in Vegas


UFC 173 is right around the corner and is rightly being billed as one of the cards of the year. Dan Henderson looks to consolidate on his recent win over “Shogun” when he takes on the surging Daniel Cormier. Robbie Lawler begins his path back to another title shot and one of the worlds pound for pound best Renan Barao vows to extend an unbeaten streak stretching back over nine years.

Maybe it’s because he hasn’t faced the high profile opponents of a Jon Jones. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t possess the polished look and articulation of a GSP or the engine and power of a Velasquez. Whatever the reason, Renan Barao still flies somewhat under the radar in the MMA landscape in terms of ranking and stardom. What is unquestioned is his talent. The current UFC bantamweight champion of the world has taken on and defeated all comers in a three year Octagon stint. And yet the teak tough Brazilian still isn’t viewed on the same lofty platform as his aforementioned contemporaries.

Barao has spoken over his frustration that opponent Urijah Faber secured a more lucrative purse for their recent encounter. He does however need to take heed of divisional peer Dominick Cruz. Cruz has spoken in recent weeks of how UFC athletes need to take a leaf out of Connor McGregor’s playbook and realise that fighting is only one aspect of a fighters fleeting window of opportunity. The brash Dubliner has captivated fans’ attention in a love him or loathe him but you simply must watch him fashion in a way that Barao has simply failed to do.

This Saturday night may prove to be a landmark championship encounter for the self effacing BJJ blackbelt. TJ Dillishaw is a very real threat to Barao’s 135lb dominance and may be just the dance partner that the brawling Nova Uniao pupil needs to cement his status amongst the world’s pound for pound best. Every fighter needs a foe who brings out their very best. Jon Jones had his meetings with what Joe Rogan rightly labelled a murderer’s row of light heavyweights. GSP had his mesmeric trilogy with Matt Hughes whilst Velasquez and Dos Santos shall be eternally intertwined in fistic folklore. Barao has thus far lacked a willing and able foe but under the bright lights of the MGM Grand he may have found just that huckleberry in Team Alpha Male’s Dillashaw.

Hendo walks the walk yet again

There are several reasons to look forward to UFC173 in Sin City at the weekend and chief amongst them is the chance to see one of the sports true pioneers enter the cage in yet another pivotal match-up. Dan Henderson doesn’t take easy fights. His resume is a who’s who of the sport’s greats with Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva and of course Fedor Emelianenko all coming up short against one of the true nice guys of MMA. Henderson is quintessential “Old Skool”. He has made the most of his natural athletic ability and has parlayed his wrestling strength into a patented right hand which has become his calling card. With all that said the Team Quest co-founder is 43 years young one must wonder how long he has left. He was able to confound the critics last time out against fellow vet Rua but Cormier is representative of the new breed in MMA and poses a threat not only to Henderson’s chances of a title run but to his very career. That is not to say that Hendo’s legacy is in jeopardy, it is not. Any industry observer worth their salt would tip their cap to a man who made his UFC debut 16 years ago at UFC 17 and continues to share the cage with young and fast up and comers in their athletic prime. In Saturday night’s co-main event Henderson will concede all of the usual combat edges to the surging Cormier but we still shouldn’t back against him. What we should do however is hope that this living legend of mixed martial arts calls it a day soon rather than follow the unenviable example of some boxing greats who heard the bell a little too late.

Lawler looks to bounce back

“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler came within a whisker of claiming the welterweight championship of the world in his last outing but he isn’t letting that disappointment linger long in the memory. Lawler’s attitude continues to impress as much as his in-cage performances. In the short space of ten weeks the former Pat Miletich protégé has dusted himself down and refocused on another tilt at the 170lb strap. In Ellenberger he faces a Sherman tank of similar ilk to himself. In what could be a one rounder for the ages, fireworks are surely guaranteed. I take Lawler to out-gun Ellenberger in a stand-up war not for the faint of heart.

McGregor’s career making “crisp” strides

Conor McGregor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Indeed he has equally divided both fans and peers in terms of how his burgeoning UFC tenure is playing out. Whilst some of his trash talking must be of the tongue in cheek variety he is spicing up the formerly stagnant featherweight division no end. His larger than life persona and silk striking are a match made in heaven, with his latest foray into the world of advertising a sure sign of things to come.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

PSHE Teacher - Cheshire West

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teachers with a passion for PSHE neede...

PSHE Teacher - Chester

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teachers with a passion for PSHE neede...

Humanities Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits