LAS VEGAS – Renan Barao, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's bantamweight champion, will be the new headliner for the May 24 UFC 173 card, replacing injured Chris Weidman.
UFC President Dana White confirmed Thursday that Barao (32-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) will face Team Alpha Male contender T.J. Dillashaw (9-2, 5-2) in the main event at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The Barao-Dillashaw bout replaces the original main event between Weidman, the middleweight title holder, and former light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida. That bout has been pushed back to UFC 175 on July 5 due to Weidman's injury.
The Barao-Dillashaw title fight headlines the evening's five-bout pay-per-view main card, which follows preliminary bouts on FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.
Barao looks to defend the undisputed bantamweight title for a second time. The Brazilian, 27, who boasts an amazing 32-fight unbeaten streak, claimed the promotion's interim title in 2012 when then-champ Dominick Cruz was forced to the sidelines.
He defended the temporary title twice before Cruz's extended layoff forced the promotion to grant Barao full championship status. Barao answered in style, downing Dillashaw's teammate, Urijah Faber, in the first round at February's UFC 169, giving the champ his first defense of the undisputed title.
Meanwhile, Dillashaw fought most recently in January, earning a convincing decision win against Mike Easton. A finalist on The Ultimate Fighter 14, Dillashaw, 28, fell short in his bid for the season's tournament win in a TKO loss to John Dodson.Since that defeat, however, Dillashaw has gone 5-1 in six UFC contests. The loss came in a contentious split decision to Raphael Assuncao in a hard-fought October 2013 matchup.
Barao told MMAjunkie this week that he expected Assuncao to be named as his next challenger. USA TODAY Sports confirmed Assuncao was under consideration for the UFC 173 spot, but lingering injuries will keep him sidelined for now.
Morgan writes for MMAJunkie