Renan Barao’s second UFC title defence since being made undisputed bantamweight champion will come against his last opponent’s, Urijah Faber, teammate, as Barao clashes with Team Alpha Male standout TJ Dillashaw in the UFC 173 main event. The fight fills the void left by Chris Weidman’s injury which left his clash with Lyoto Machida moved to UFC 175. However Dillashaw wasn’t the UFC’s first choice for the shot at Barao.
The UFC first asked the man who snapped Dillashaw’s four fight win streak in a controversial split decision at UFC Fight Night 29, Raphael Assuncao. Assuncao has pleaded for a shot at Barao for several months, but his camp confirmed he would not be ready for May, so the UFC decided to go with Dillashaw due to timing.
In many respects, this could be considered a win-win for Assuncao. It is clear that he is considered the #1 contender after he was the first man offered the fight, and if Barao gets past Dillashaw, he gets the fight he wanted; if Dillashaw defeats Barao, he gets an opponent he has already defeated.
TJ Dillashaw was originally scheduled to fight Japanese fan favourite Takeya Mizugaki at the same event, but he was pulled in order to fight in the main event of the card. Details regarding Mizugaki’s new opponent are yet to be released.
UFC 173 will be held at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. on May 24.