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UFC 173 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Oddsmakers give big advantage to Renan Barao and Daniel Cormier

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Sam Morris

T.J. Dillishaw, left, Dan Henderson and Jake Ellenberger leave a media availability event in advance of UFC 173 Thursday, May 22, 2014 at the MGM Grand.

It’s somewhat rare to find an 8-to-1 or higher favorite in any UFC fight, let alone two at the top of a single card.

The first instance of that happening this year, and most likely much longer, comes on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. If either Renan Barao or Daniel Cormier loses in the main event or co-main event, respectively, it would register as a complete shock.

Sports books give T.J. Dillashaw, Barao’s challenger, and Dan Henderson, Cormier’s opponent, each less than a 15 percent chance at emerging victorious. A $10 parlay of Henderson at plus-550 (risking $1 to win $5.50) and Dillashaw at plus-500 would pay a whopping $380.

No one on the Las Vegas Sun picks panel will line up at the window to make the high-risk/high-reward investment. All five prognosticators went the safe route by picking both Barao and Cormier.

Read below to find betting odds for every fight along with a breakdown and picks from ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (50-20 year to date), Las Vegas Sun’s Ray Brewer (48-22), Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (47-23) and KSNV’s Randy Howe (41-29).

T.J. Dillashaw

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 5-2
  • MMA record 9-2
  • Out of: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Betting line: +500

Renan Barao

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 7-0
  • MMA record 32-1
  • Out of: Rio de Janeiro
  • Betting line: -800

Bantamweight Championship Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Defeated Mike Easton by unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 35.

Punch list: The former Cal-State Fullerton wrestler has been regarded as one of the most promising fighters in the 135-pound division for the last few years. Dillashaw defiantly disputes both of his defeats, as a split-decision loss to Raphael Assuncao last year was razor-thin and a 2011 knockout to John Dodson might have featured an early stoppage.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Barao

Cofield: Barao

Last fight: First-round TKO victory over Urijah Faber at UFC 169.

Punch list: Thirty-two straight victories. Twenty-three victories by stoppage. Thirteen first-round finishes. Yes, UFC President Dana White’s crusade on Barao being the most dominant fighter in combat sports aside from Floyd Mayweather, Jr., might be more than bluster. “Pegado” just looks a cut above any potential challenger at his weight class.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Barao

Brewer: Barao

Okamoto: Barao

Daniel Cormier

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 3-0
  • MMA record 14-0
  • Out of: San Jose, Calif.
  • Betting line: -850

Dan Henderson

  • Age: 43
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 7-5
  • MMA record 30-11
  • Out of: Temecula, Calif.
  • Betting line: +550

Light Heavyweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: First-round TKO victory over Patrick Cummins at UFC 170.

Punch list: The former Strikeforce heavyweight champion could have sat back and waited for his seemingly imminent light heavyweight title shot. But Cormier wanted to stay busy, desiring to build on his experience at a new weight class while eyeing the upcoming light heavyweight championship bout between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Cormier

Cofield: Cormier

Last fight: Third-round TKO over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC Fight Night 38.

Punch list: “Hendo” has said it would be a disappointment to retire without ever fighting light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Here’s his shot to get back to the top. After snapping a three-fight losing streak with a dramatic comeback against Rua, Henderson could catapult to the top with an upset of Cormier.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Cormier

Brewer: Cormier

Okamoto: Cormier

Jake Ellenberger

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 8-3
  • MMA record 29-7
  • Out of: Lake Forest, Calif.
  • Betting line: +180

Robbie Lawler

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 7-4
  • MMA record 22-10
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: -230

Welterweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox 8.

Punch list: Ellenberger wants what Lawler just had. “The Juggernaut” has talked about a title shot for years, always falling just short. He should have a wrestling advantage against Lawler and may look to take the fight to the floor.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Lawler

Cofield: Lawler

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Johny Hendricks at UFC 171.

Punch list: Fresh off of a loss in a bout for the vacant UFC welterweight title, Lawler is hungry to prove that the decision was wrong. That he’s the best 170-pounder in the UFC. Lawler’s best shot at victory will be drawing Ellenberger into repeated striking exchanges and staying on the feet.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Ellenberger

Brewer: Lawler

Okamoto: Lawler

Francisco Rivera

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 10-2
  • Out of: Buena Park, Calif.
  • Betting line: +145

Takeya Mizugaki

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’2”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 6-2
  • MMA record 19-7-2
  • Out of: Kanagawa, Japan
  • Betting line: -165

Bantamweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Fight

Last fight: Second-round TKO over George Roop at UFC Fight For The Troops 3.

Punch list: “Cisco” might be the best fighter Mizugaki has faced during his run, though. Rivera lost in his UFC debut but won his next six fights with five by knockout. One of them, a win over Roland Delorme at UFC 149, was overturned to a no contest after a failed drug test.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Rivera

Cofield: Mizugaki

Last fight: Unanimous-decision win over Nam Phan at UFC Fight Night 33.

Punch list: After alternating wins and losses in his first four UFC fights, Mizugaki has pieced together four straight victories. Split-decisions over Bryan Caraway and Erik Pere were extremely close, but the Phan victory was never in doubt.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Rivera

Brewer: Rivera

Okamoto: Mizugaki

James Krause

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 20-5
  • Out of: Kansas City, Mo.
  • Betting line: +150

Jamie Varner

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 156
  • UFC record 3-4
  • MMA record 21-9
  • Out of: Tempe, Ariz.
  • Betting line: -180

Lightweight Bout

Main Card Opener

Last fight: First-round TKO loss to Bobby Green at UFC Fight For The Troops 3.

Punch list: Krause is capable of producing electricity too. He had won eight straight fights, with six coming via stoppage, before the loss to Green and took home Fight of the Night in his UFC debut win over Sam Stout at UFC 161.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Varner

Cofield: Varner

Last fight: Second-round knockout loss to Abel Trujillo at UFC 169.

Punch list: The loss to Trujillo might down as the Fight of the Year — and much for what Varner did despite the result. Varner had dominated Trujillo before walking into a right hand that put his lights out. Defense is always a concern with the former WEC chamion.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Varner

Brewer: Varner

Okamoto: Varner

Francisco Trinaldo

  • Age: 35
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 4-2
  • MMA record 14-3
  • Out of: Brasilia, Brazil
  • Betting line: +110

Michael Chiesa

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 10-1
  • Out of: Spokane, Wash.
  • Betting line: -160

Lightweight Bout

Fox Sports 1 prelim

Last fight: Split-decision win over Jesse Ronson at UFC Fight Night 36.

Punch list: For the first time ever, Trinaldo will fight outside of Brazil. He also gets the most prominent billing of his UFC career, a distinction he earned by consistently showing up at his best.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Chiesa

Cofield: Chiesa

Last fight: Submitted Colton Smith in the second round at UFC Fight For The Troops 3.

Punch list: Forever associated with his win on the only live season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, Chiesa wants to move on to the next phase of his career. A fourth win in five official UFC bouts — the first three were all by submission — could go a long way in helping him towards the goal.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Trinaldo

Brewer: Trinaldo

Okamoto: Chiesa

Katsunori Kikuno

  • Age: 32
  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 22-5-2
  • Out of: Tokyo
  • Betting line: +225

Tony Ferguson

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 4-1
  • MMA record 15-3
  • Out of: Ventura, Calif.
  • Betting line: -275

Lightweight Bout

Fox Sports 1 prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision victory over Quinn Mulhern at UFC Fight Night 34.

Punch list: For the first time in more than three years, Kikuno comes into a fight as an underdog. Even though he was outside of the UFC for most of his career, Kikuno is well-tested as a veteran of the Japan-based DREAM promotion.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Ferguson

Cofield: Ferguson

Last fight: First-round submission victory over Mike Rio at UFC 166.

Punch list: It’s a crowded weight class, but Ferguson has no plans to move back up to welterweight where he won “The Ultimate Fighter” 13. “El Cucuy” likes where he is and believes he’s on the verge of a run at lightweight.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Ferguson

Brewer: Ferguson

Okamoto: Ferguson

Chico Camus

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 5’6”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 14-4
  • Out of: Milwaukee
  • Betting line: +300

Chris Holdsworth

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 5-0
  • Out of: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Betting line: -350

Bantamweight Bout

Fox Sports 1 Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision victory over Yaotzin Meza at UFC on Fox 10.

Punch list: The formerly Duke Roufus-trained Camus never had to deal with the spotlight of being a top prospect — perhaps to his benefit. He’s fought loose in working his way up the ranks, which has included two upset victories.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Holdsworth

Cofield: Holdsworth

Last fight: Second-round submission win over Davey Grant at “The Ultimate Fighter” 18 finale.

Punch list: Holdsworth’s position is at once both enviable and unenviable. He’s drawn praise as one of the top prospects at the lower weight classes, but that comes with a great deal of pressure capable of sinking some fighters.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Holdsworth

Brewer:Holdsworth

Okamoto: Holdsworth

Mitch Clarke

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-2
  • MMA record 10-2
  • Out of: Edmonton, Alberta
  • Betting line: +300

Al Iaquinta

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 8-2-1
  • Out of: Garden City, N.Y.
  • Betting line: -350

Lightweight Bout

Fox Sports 1 Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision victory over John Maguire at UFC 161.

Punch list: Tied as the biggest underdog on the card, Clarke will need a flawless performance to pull another upset. His resolve shouldn’t be doubted, though, as his job was on the line against Maguire and he overcame 3-to-1 odds a year ago.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Iaquinta

Cofield: Iaquinta

Last fight: Unanimous-decision win over Kevin Lee at UFC 169.

Punch list: Since a stunning upset to Chiesa, Iaquinta has won in all three performances. Iaquinta’s grappling has shone through, and he’ll likely look to continue his wrestling superiority against Clarke.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Iaquinta

Brewer: Iaquinta

Okamoto: Iaquinta

Vinc Pichel

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 8-1
  • Out of: Simi Valley, Calif.
  • Betting line: +200

Anthony Njokuani

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 3-3
  • MMA record 16-7
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -220

Lightweight Bout

UFC Fight Pass Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision victory over Garett Whiteley at UFC Fight Night 35.

Punch list: Pichel’s mother, of all people, coined him with the nickname of “From Hell”. With seven knockouts in nine career fights, it’s easy to see where she’s coming from. “Hell” is what Pichel hands out to his opponents.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Njokuani

Cofield: Pichel

Last fight: Second-round knockout victory over Roger Bowling at UFC on Fox 7.

Punch list: The local veteran must feel accomplished for lasting in the UFC for more than three years since the WEC merger. But he also could feel a sense of frustration for not being able to make more of it with alternating wins and losses throughout his octagon career.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Pichel

Brewer: Njokuani

Okamoto: Njokuani

Aaron Phillips

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 8-0
  • Out of: Lafayette, La.
  • Betting line: +125

Sam Sicilia

  • Age: 24
  • Height: 5’0”
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-3
  • MMA record 12-4
  • Out of: Spokane, Wash.
  • Betting line: -155

Featherweight Bout

UFC Fight Pass Prelim

Last fight: Split-decision victory over Tyler Shinn at C3 Fights: Border Wars 2014.

Punch list: Former UFC middleweight Tim Creuder brought up a top-level featherweight in Dustin Poirier a couple years ago. Now he tries to do the same with another brawl-minded prospect from his Southern Louisiana stable.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Phillips

Cofield: Sicilia

Last fight: Second-round submission loss to Cole Miller at UFC Fight Night 35.

Punch list: It’s usually knockout-or-bust for Sicilia. His last three wins have come after catching opponents cleanly with strikes, but the problem is two of them were in 2012 and 2011. The heavy-handed “Ultimate Fighter” alum has lost three of four overall.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Sicilia

Brewer: Phillips

Okamoto: Sicilia

Li JingLiang

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 8-2
  • Out of: Xinjiang, China
  • Betting line: +130

David Michaud

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 7-0
  • Out of: Glendale, Ariz.
  • Betting line: -150

Welterweight Bout

UFC Fight Pass Prelim

Last fight: Third-round submission victory over Luke Jumeau at Legend Fighting Championship 11.

Punch list: “The Leech” set his goals high in wanting to become an ambassador for the UFC in China. His recent output makes him look capable, as he’s won five of his last six fights with three stoppages.

Picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

Howe: Michaud

Cofield: Michaud

Last fight: First-round submission victory over Carey Vanier at Dakota FC 17: Winter Brawl 2014.

Punch list: “BullDawg” flamed out of “The Ultimate Fighter” 16 in the elimination round but got another chance in the octagon when JingLiang’s original opponent came down with an injury. Since his time on the reality show, Michaud has three straight wins with two by submission.

Picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Michaud

Brewer: JingLiang

Okamoto: Michaud

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

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