The UFC has been on a roll with their last couple pay-per-view events. UFC 172 was tremendously entertaining last Saturday, and UFC 171 featured one of the best welterweight title bouts the promotion has ever put on. They hope to continue the trend in three weeks time when the octagon travels back to one of the oldest stomping grounds the promotion knows, the MGM Grand. UFC 173 will be headlined by a bantamweight title bout between Renan Barao and TJ Dillashaw, but the phenomenal support for that bout is what really makes this card something to behold. The co-main event features what is likely a number one contender’s bout in the light heavyweight division between a pair of the most highly decorated wrestlers in MMA, Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson. Beyond that, one of the men who was involved in the aforementioned welterweight title bout at UFC 171 is back in action already, as Robbie Lawler looks to work his way towards another title shot as he takes on Jake Ellenberger in one of the hardest-hitting bouts possible to book. The card also features a bout that is important to the bantamweight title picture, as Takeya Mizugaki and Francisco Rivera both try to extend their current four fight unbeaten streaks in the UFC. It will be interesting to see if Rivera can become the first fighter to stop Mizugaki since Urijah Faber back in 2010. If he can’t he’ll have a tough time picking up the win here. Finally, the main card kicks off with a lightweight bout between Jamie Varner and James Krause. Oddly, the betting line for this bout has already been released, making it the only bout other than the bantamweight headliner to have odds up to this bout. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas changed that today, as he released the remaining lines for the UFC 173 main card at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (PPV, 10pm ET) UFC Bantamweight Title Renan Barao -425 TJ Dillashaw +305 Daniel Cormier -425 Dan Henderson +305 Robbie Lawler -215 Jake Ellenberger +165 Takeya Mizugaki -150 Francisco Rivera +110 Jamie Varner -180 James Krause +140 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: My thoughts on this Dan Henderson fight are my thoughts on every Dan Henderson fight. If he doesn’t land a huge right hand, he’s going to lose. I didn’t think it would matter even if he did land the right against Shogun because of Shogun’s chin, but was proved wrong there. I don’t expect to be put into that position here. Cormier is a smart fighter who will be careful about how he looks to get on the inside here (if he even chooses to do so, as he could beat Henderson with his superior speed and overall striking from the outside) and Henderson has a very small chance of landing that shot. With that in mind, I don’t see another way Henderson wins. The price is steep here, but I think Cormier is worth it. How do I think Lawler/Ellenberger will play out? Awesomely. I think it will play out awesomely. This is basically the same fight that Lawler just had with Hendricks, but against someone who isn’t as diverse on the feet, as effective with his wrestling, and has worse cardio. That should be a recipe for Lawler to pick up the victory here, as long as he doesn’t fall back into the same pattern we saw in Strikeforce, where he was fighting just to fight rather than trying to maximize his potential as we have seen since he came back to the UFC. I do like Lawler here, but I’m going to wait until closer to the fight and see if I can glean more about how he’s approached the bout before I put any kind of money on it. The trickiest bout of them all. Francisco Rivera is extremely dangerous with his ability to finish fights, but he’s not a great round winner. Takeya Mizugaki probably couldn’t finish a fight if his life depended on it, but he’s excellent at winning rounds. Both guys slow down in their fights, but Rivera usually manages to retain his power even when tired. Mizugaki ends up getting hit a lot more when he gets tired, so it will be interesting to see if Mizugaki can put rounds in the bank early and survive here. I’m leaning towards him being able to, but if he puts on the kind of performance that we saw in the third round against Nam Phan, he’s going to sleep. In trying to think of something to bet on this fight, the only confident play I can come up with is ‘Not Mizugaki Inside the Distance,’ but you’ll probably have to pay around -600 for that when props come out.
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