UFC 173: Ranking The 10 Most Intriguing Matchups

10. Anthony Njokuani vs. Vinc Pichel

anthony njokuani, vince pichel, ufc 173
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

10. Anthony Njokuani vs. Vinc Pichel

anthony njokuani, vince pichel, ufc 173
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Longtime UFC and WEC lightweight veteran Anthony Njokuani (16-7) has traded wins and losses in recent years, but has only faced top competition. Now Njokuani will meet TUF 15 vet Vinc Pichel (8-1) in what seems to be a mismatch in favor of the “Assassin”. For the most part, Njokuani has only faltered against powerful grapplers, but with the threat of the takedown lessened against Pichel, look for the Muay Thai specialist to put on a clinic.

9. Al Iaquinta vs. Mitch Clarke

al iaquinta, mitch clarke, ufc 173
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

9. Al Iaquinta vs. Mitch Clarke

al iaquinta, mitch clarke, ufc 173
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Since losing in the TUF finale to Michael Chiesa, Al Iaquinta (10-1) has gone undefeated in the UFC lightweight division and will look to continue his impressive run against Mitch Clarke (10-2), who is coming off of win in his last bout against John Maguire. Clarke will likely try to bring the fight to the floor, but the talented wrestler Iaquinta will prove to be a tough task to take down and should hold an advantage over Clarke on the feet.

8. Chris Holdsworth vs. Chico Camus

chris holdsworth, chico camus, ufc 173
Photo via Chris Holdsworth Twitter Page

8. Chris Holdsworth vs. Chico Camus

chris holdsworth, chico camus, ufc 173
Photo via Chris Holdsworth Twitter Page

In his sophomore appearance with the UFC, Ultimate Fighter winner Chris Holdsworth (5-0) will look to impress again against veteran Chico Camus (14-4). The bantamweight jiu-jitsu ace from the highly respected Team Alpha Male camp has finished all five of his professional wins by way of submission and will look to continue the trend against an improving Camus, who has won his last two fights under the UFC banner.

7. Tony Ferguson vs. Katsunori Kikuno

tony ferguson, katsunori kukino, ufc 173
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

7. Tony Ferguson vs. Katsunori Kikuno

tony ferguson, katsunori kukino, ufc 173
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 winner Tony Ferguson (15-3) looked great against Mike Rio, and will look to continue the trend when he meets Katsunori Kikuno (22-5-2) at UFC 173. The Dream veteran looked good in his first fight with the UFC, but didn’t put on the kind of performance that showed he was on the level of a bulldozer like Ferguson.

6. Michael Chiesa vs. Francisco Trinaldo

michael chiesa, fracisco trinaldo, ufc 173
Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

6. Michael Chiesa vs. Francisco Trinaldo

michael chiesa, fracisco trinaldo, ufc 173
Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

In a battle of contrasting styles, the gangly grappler Michael Chiesa (10-1) and the powerful Brazilian Francisco Trinaldo (14-3) will meet in a lightweight tilt that could throw the winner toward the UFC top 15 rankings. Neither man will possess a huge advantage as both are supremely talented on the mat, but it will be fun to see the 6-foot-1 Chiesa tangle with the stocky “Massaranduba “ Trinaldo on the feet.

5. Jamie Varner vs. James Krause

jamie varner, james krause, ufc 173
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

5. Jamie Varner vs. James Krause

jamie varner, james krause, ufc 173
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

These lightweights are coming off tough losses, and it will be interesting to see how both fighters respond going into UFC 173. Hopefully both Jamie Varner (21-9-1) and James Krause (20-5) will show up on Saturday night with a heightened sense of urgency in attempt keep their position at lightweight from sliding further from contention. Krause will attempt to evade the hard-charging Varner, but the former WEC fighter will likely be too much.

4. Takeya Mizugaki vs. Francisco Rivera

takeya mizugaki, francisco rivera, ufc 173
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

4. Takeya Mizugaki vs. Francisco Rivera

takeya mizugaki, francisco rivera, ufc 173
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Takeya Mizugaki (19-7-2) was originally slated to battle title challenger T.J. Dillashaw, but now the No. 6 ranked bantamweight will take on No. 10 Francisco Rivera (10-2). Mizugaki and Rivera are riding impressive win streaks into Saturday night, with “Cisco” taking his last two by way of TKO. The hard-hitting Rivera will look to get inside and batter the technically sound Mizugaki in what should be an entertaining top-10 bantamweight affair.

3. Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger

robbie lawler, jake ellenberger, ufc 173
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

3. Robbie Lawler vs. Jake Ellenberger

robbie lawler, jake ellenberger, ufc 173
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

This clash has “Fight of the Night” written all over it, as brutally powerful top contenders Jake Ellenberger and Robbie Lawler will throw down to take one step closer to a shot at the welterweight title. Lawler and Ellenberger are looking to rebound in this fight, with Lawler coming off of a title loss to champion Johny Hendricks and Ellenberger dropping a lackluster decision to Rory Macdonald. Look for both to come out guns blazing.

2. Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson

daniel cormier, dan henderson, ufc 173
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

2. Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson

daniel cormier, dan henderson, ufc 173
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

In his second fight in the division, Daniel Cormier (14-0) will face his first true test at 205 in Dan Henderson (33-11). Cormier has run through all competition in his career thus far, and this matchup should favor Cormier as well. Henderson is never out of a fight, which he again proved in his latest come-from-behind KO against Shogun Rua, but “Hendo” has slowed significantly of late and that doesn't bode well for the future HOFer.

1. Bantamweight Championship: (C) Renan Barao vs. T.J. Dillashaw

renan barao, tj dillashaw, ufc 173
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

1. Bantamweight Championship: (C) Renan Barao vs. T.J. Dillashaw

renan barao, tj dillashaw, ufc 173
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

In the main event of the evening, bantamweight champion Renan Barao (34-1) will put his title and 22-fight win-streak on the line against rising contender T.J. Dillashaw (10-2). The dangerous Barao has been tearing through all competition at 135, and though Dillashaw is improving with leaps and bounds, it likely will not be enough to close the gap on the dynamic champion, who can violently finish the fight anywhere at any time.

Graham Jones is an MMA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @graymatter91, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google Read more at


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