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UFC 177: A top-to-bottom look at the card with two title fights

Renan Barao vows to even score with T.J. Dillashaw

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Blood flies off Renan Barao as he is hit with a leg from T.J. Dillashaw that nearly finishes him off in the fifth round during their title fight at UFC 173 on Saturday, May 24, 2014, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Dillashaw won shortly thereafter with a TKO.

UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw

Blood flies off Renan Barao as he is hit with a leg from T.J. Dillashaw that nearly finishes him off in the fifth round during their title fight at UFC 173 on Saturday, May 24, 2014, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Dillashaw won shortly thereafter with a TKO. Launch slideshow »

UFC 178 has produced a dust-up, while UFC 176 wound up in the dustbin.

All the activity has just plain left UFC 177 in the dust. The UFC’s next pay-per-view, which falls on Aug. 30 in Sacramento, is getting glossed over, but there are plenty of reasons to watch what will be the only numbered event in an 11-week span.

Two stand above the rest, as UFC 177 is the rare card with dual title fights. The biggest upset in UFC history gets a quick reprise in the main event, where T.J. Dillashaw (10-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) attempts to defend his bantamweight championship against the man he took it from at UFC 173, Renan Barao (32-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC).

“The title is coming back to Brazil,” Barao said at a Brazilian press event. “I’m hungry to get this title back. I will get what is mine.”

Some, including Dillashaw himself, initially spoke out against the idea of an immediate rematch. Dillashaw’s fifth-round TKO of Barao in May was so thorough, the sentiment went, that another fight wasn’t warranted.

Those concerns were silenced with the announcement of the co-main event, a significantly more controversial pairing. With top flyweight contender John Dodson out with an injury for the rest of the year, champion Demetrious Johnson (20-2-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) will instead face Chris Cariaso (17-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC).

Slotted at No. 8 in the UFC rankings after having not beaten anyone of note in more than two years, Cariaso was among the large contingent surprised when he got the call for a title fight. UFC President Dana White has gotten defensive over the matchmaking criticism.

“People are going to (expletive) about Demetrious Johnson no matter who we put him against,” White said through UFC.com. “Eventually, he’ll just have to keep knocking people out left and right, and then he’ll earn his respect.”

Cariaso could knock Dillashaw’s upset off its perch in three months. Dillashaw closed as a 7-to-1 underdog at most sports books before beating Barao the first time.

Cariaso is at least 8-to-1 going into his bout with Johnson. Dillashaw vs. Barao II is much closer, with the champion now posted as a slight favorite ahead of the rematch.

They might not feud at a press conference, but Dillashaw and Barao could have the UFC’s top rivalry in the second half of 2014.

Check below for a rundown of the rest of the card at UFC 177.

Women’s bantamweight bout: Bethe Correia (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) vs. Shayna Baszler (15-8 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Seen as one of the favorites to win “The Ultimate Fighter” 18, Baszler got upset in the quarterfinal round. Correia called Baszler out after defeating her teammate, Jessamyn Duke, at UFC 172.

Lightweight bout: Tony Ferguson (15-3 MMA, 5-1 UFC) vs. Danny Castillo (17-6 MMA, 7-3 UFC) Castillo and Ferguson come in after recording vicious knockouts at UFC 172 and UFC 173, respectively.

Lightweight bout: Ramsey Nijem (9-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira (10-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) One of the UFC’s more promising Brazilian prospects, Ferreira gets the toughest assignment of his career with a grinding wrestler like Nijem.

Middleweight bout: Lorenz Larkin (14-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC) vs. Derek Brunson (11-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) The Strikeforce veterans meet and attempt to stave off mediocrity in the 185-pound division.

Heavyweight bout: Ruslan Magomedov (12-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Richard Odoms (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Fighters like the Dagestani striker and “The Black Eagle” are providing a much-needed infusion of new faces into the the promotion’s glamour division.

Lightweight bout: Yancy Medeiros (9-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) vs. Justin Edwards (8-4 MMA, 2-4 UFC) Edwards’ hours in his other job as an endoscopic technician will increase if he can’t prevent himself from losing his third straight and fourth out of five fights.

Heavyweight bout: Ruan Potts (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Anthony Hamilton (12-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) The Greg Jackson/Mike Winkeljohn-trained Hamilton will put his striking up against Potts’ grappling.

Flyweight bout: Scott Jorgensen (15-9 MMA, 4-5 UFC) vs. Henry Cejudo (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Former WEC bantamweight top contender Jorgensen still has his sights set on fighting for another title someday, but it might be Cejudo, who won a wrestling gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, who’s closer to a shot at Johnson.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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