T.J. Dillashaw gets his chance at bantamweight gold on May 24. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
UFC 173 has a new main event.
Bantamweight champion Renan Barao will defend his strap against T.J. Dillashaw at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 24. UFC President Dana White first confirmed the booking to MMAJunkie.com on Thursday night. The news comes just three days after Chris Weidman withdrew from card’s original main event against Lyoto Machida to undergo knee surgery.
UFC 173 main card airs on pay-per-view and also features a heavyweight co-headliner pitting Junior dos Santos against Stipe Miocic. Dillashaw was originally scheduled to face Takeya Mizugaki on the main card, but a replacement foe for the Japanese bantamweight has yet to be announced.
Unbeaten in his last 33 professional appearances, Barao captured the promotion’s interim bantamweight crown by taking a unanimous decision over Urijah Faber at UFC 149. After a pair of successful title defenses against Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland, Barao was set to unify the belt with a matchup against Dominick Cruz at UFC 169. However, a groin tear forced Cruz to pull out of the fight and vacate his title, making Barao the undisputed 135-pound king. The Brazilian then stopped Faber inside of a round in the new UFC 169 main event.
Dillashaw, meanwhile, has won five of six bouts since falling to John Dodson at “The Ultimate Fighter 14” finale. Most recently, the Team Alpha Male product scored a one-sided unanimous verdict over Mike Easton at UFC Fight Night 35. Dillashaw’s only loss during that time came at the hands of Raphael Assuncao, who was expected to be named the bantamweight No. 1 contender. Multiple outlets have reported that Assuncao would not be ready to compete in May due to injury issues.