This Memorial Day Weekend reminded MMA fans exactly why the UFC is so amazing! UFC® 173 was set in fabulous Las Vegas, NV and gave fans all they could handle and then some.
With a gorgeous backdrop, perfect weather, pre-events that MMA fans can only day dream about, and a stacked fight card, UFC® 173 was EPIC. We emerge from the evening with an underdog becoming the new champion, dominating performances and a night of surprising finishes.
Guests who went with UFC VIP Experience got to experience all of this and more with tons of extras and VIP access that made the weekend even more magical. Read on for a full recap of this weekend’s events!
FRIDAY: UFC® 175 PRESS CONFERENCE
While the line formed for Fight Club and general admission, UFC VIP Experience guests came to their dedicated check-in to pick up their credentials and be escorted to their reserved seats.
Just a short while after getting to their seats and taking in their surroundings, champions and contenders for UFC® 175’s stacked card filled the stage: Chael Sonnen, Ronda Rousey, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Alexis Davis, Wanderlei Silva, BJ Penn and UFC President, Dana White.
For almost an hour they entertained our VIPs and the crowd by fielding questions from media and fans. White and the fighters entertained fans questions ranging from if Rousey could really “badly hurt” Mike Tyson, to queries about how they’re prepping for their upcoming fights.
After the conference wrapped, the audience was treated to UFC® 175 square-offs.
UFC® 173 BACKSTAGE TOUR
VIPs were then whisked backstage where they viewed the post-conference and pre-fight media happenings, construction of the Octagon, and got to meet some of the best UFC fighters in the world!
Guests were delighted as they snapped pictures and got autographs with champions Chris Weidman, Ronda Rousey, and Anthony Pettis, and top contenders BJ Penn, Lyoto Machida and NOW champion TJ Dillashaw! All the fighters were a pleasure to be around and made all of our VIPs feel special and important.
UFC® 173 WEIGH-INS
Then it was back to their reserved seats: UFC® 173 fighter weigh-ins were about to begin!
Dana White, Octagon girls Arianny Celeste, Brittney Palmer and Vanessa Hanson and more filled the stage as each matchup’s fighters took their turn weighing-in and squaring-off. As we moved through the prelims and closer to the main card, fans and VIPs alike cheered on their favorites.
Once the main card fighters weigh-ins started, the energy in MGM Grand Garden Arena ramped up and everyone got hyped for Saturday’s fights!
SATURDAY: REHEARSAL, SOUND CHECK AND OCTAGON TOUR
After an evening free to explore Las Vegas, UFC VIPs returned to their exclusive check-in area and were taken to see their exclusive in-arena hospitality party venue. But before everyone settled in to enjoy the food and beverages, they headed out onto the UFC® 173 floor to get a one-of-a-kind tour.
Some guests were able to sit front and center and take in the rehearsal and sound check that takes place behind-the-scenes before a live UFC® PPV event. Others took their shoes off and made the short climb into the Octagon!
Once inside guests tested its springiness, put on their best fighting poses, and took turns taking pictures and posing with the UFC championship belt. Around them fighters warmed up, and the hustle and bustle of the upcoming fight night set a thrilling mood!
HOSPITALITY PARTY VENUE
After the Octagon tour, it was back to their luxury hospitality party venue! While VIPs took the time to snap a few more pictures with the belt, video games got hooked up, the gourmet buffet spread was laid out and the premium bar was ready to go!
It seemed right as everyone got back, voice of the Octagon, Bruce Buffer and, Octagon girl, Vanessa Hanson stopped by between fights to hang out!
Everyone was chowing down on prime rib from the carving station, going back for seconds at the sushi bar and indulging in the pasta bar when UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes came in! Hughes partook in the buffet before hanging with all of the VIPs!
A few minutes later UFC VIP hospitality party venue got even brighter as the lovely Kenda Perez came to meet the VIPs as well!
While mingling, VIPs watched the prelims on TVs located all around the venue, and even skipped out to their seats through their dedicated security entrance to catch some of the action live!
After that it seemed like it was fighter after fighter swinging by to kick it with guests. First, TUF season winner Julianna Pena arrived, and was followed shortly by UFC® 176 main event contender Chad Mendes!
Hughes, Perez, Pena and Mendes met, caught up and chatted away with each other and VIPs! In between rounds, Octagon girl Arianny Celeste also stopped by to grab a bite and say hi.
With just a couple fights left before the main card UFC champ Anthony Pettis and UFC® 172 victor Anthony Johnson were in the house. Pettis’ attention was immediately caught by the gamers playing the latest UFC game. As he looked over he discovered they were using his character and signature leg kicks to win the fight! (TRIPPY!)
As Pettis and Johnson made their way around the hospitality party venue to meet and take pictures with all the VIPs, UFC® 175 contender BJ Penn made an appearance as well. Then everyone was in for a real treat.
Pettis and Penn grabbed the controllers for a friendly matchup using their own fighters! Our VIPs got in on the action as everyone gathered to watch the digital fight—in Pettis’ defense he wasn’t familiar with the controllers, but to summarize he got beat several times, badly. (Kudos to BJ!)
With the prelims over, VIPs used their dedicated entrance to file to their seat, all happy, fed, watered and ready for the main card!
UFC® 173 MAIN CARD
The card kicked-off with what many believed to be a pair of well matched fighters with James Krause and Jamie Varner. Unfortunately, Varner broke his ankle very early in the first round and after surviving five minutes against a relentless Krause, doctors deemed him unable to continue and called a stop to the fight.
Next up, the men’s bantamweight division was on display as Takeya Mizugaki faced Francisco Rivera. Both men were able to last three rounds with Mizugaki landing more strikes and Rivera dominating with takedowns. In the end the judges awarded Mizugaki a resounded UD victory.
One of the evening’s most highly anticipated matchup came next as middleweights Robbie Lawler faced Jake Ellenberger next in the Octagon.
Lawler controlled for much of the matchup, connecting with more than double the strikes as Ellenberger. The Juggernaut was able to win the takedown battle, and while this fight looked as though it would be awards to Lawler via decision, Ruthless Robbie was able to end the fight with a KO/TKO as the referee called a stop to the fight towards the end of the third round.
UFC® 173’s next matchup pitted newcomer to the light heavyweight division Daniel Cormier against veteran Dan Henderson. Cormier dominated easily from the onset. Round 1 and 2 were easily controlled by Cormier who employed expert wrestling and grappling to impose his will on the ground. In round 3, when it seemed as though DC would win via UD, he was able to lock up a rear naked choke and put Hendo to sleep.
From my UFC®173 preview blog I was 4-0 on main card fights and with the champ, Renan Barao’s, record I was feeling pretty confident that he would make short quick work of challenger TJ Dillashaw and I could brag about my epic 5-0 calls in Las Vegas. Then the main event began.
Bruce Buffer introduced both men while Barao and his Brazilian fans cheered, and Dillashaw and his Team Alpha male fan base answered back. They touched gloves and the rest is now history.
Dillashaw surprised almost everyone in the MMA and UFC world. Twitter erupted almost immediately as fans and experts were stunned with his cool composure and deliberate strikes to the champion. If it wasn’t apparent after round 1, round 2-5 made it clearer and clearer. Dillashaw was ready to seize his moment: He came for the belt.
In scintillating fashion, Dillashaw used a well-rounded attack to win every round, and just as we thought (as with the prior two matches) that this would go to decision, Dillashaw connects with a huge left hand, then a few more on the ground before Herb Dean called a stoppage to the fight and TJ Dillashaw was announced as the NEW UFC Bantamweight Champion! It was one of the best performances of the year (if not the best thus far) and left almost everyone inside the MGM Grand Arena with goosebumps!
Dillashaw and Barao won Fight of the Night Bonuses, and Dillashaw and prelim fight victor Mitch Clarke were also awarded Performance of the Night Bonuses.
What did you think of the fights? Did you predict that Dillashaw would be the new champ? Do you think a Dillashaw vs Barao II should be in the works? Were there any matches that you scored differently at home?
Witness the UFC® LIVE!
You never know when a new champion will be crowned, when someone will have a career defining performance or when an underdog will beat the odds, and we got all of that and more at UFC® 173. So instead of feeling the sting of regret when your PPV turns off, be there and see it all LIVE and in-person!
With UFC VIP Experience, witness the UFC® like never before. Have an experience like the one described above at any of the upcoming 2014 fights. Whether you’d like to join us at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for 4th of July and another epic fight card, or you want to wait to take a trip to LA to see Jose Aldo defend his belt against Chad Mendes at UFC® 176, don’t put off this bucket list MMA experience any longer. Find out how you can be there!