UFC 173 has a new headliner as bantamweight champion Renan Barao will put his title up for grabs against Team Alpha Male fighter TJ Dillashaw in the new main event taking place on May 24 in Las Vegas.
UFC president Dana White first confirmed the new matchup with USA Today on Thursday evening.
The news comes on the heels of the original UFC 173 main event falling off the card when middleweight champion Chris Weidman suffered a knee injury forcing him to delay the scheduled bout against Lyoto Machida. That fight will now take place on July 5 as the main event for UFC 175 instead.
With Weidman vs. Machida scrapped for the time being, the UFC had to scramble to find a new fight and Barao was the champion who got the call.
For the second fight in a row he will take on a member of Team Alpha Male after dispatching of Urijah Faber in February.
Former Ultimate Fighter finalist TJ Dillashaw will get the opportunity to face Barao after originally being scheduled to take on Takeya Mizugaki on the same card that night.
It appeared as if Raphael Assuncao was next in line to receive a title shot at Barao, especially considering he holds a win over Dillashaw albeit in a very close, controversial decision, but lingering injuries prevented the Brazilian from accepting the fight on short notice.
Timing could ultimately be the key with Dillashaw already deep into a training camp, and moving from a three round fight to a five round fight will be the only major difference he’ll deal with as he gets his opportunity to compete for the UFC bantamweight title in only his 12th professional bout.
UFC 173 goes down on May 24 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.