UFC 169 - 2 Titles, 1 Huge Night
It’s usually nothing but bad news when an injury forces a fighter out of a main event, especially when the championship bout is just a few weeks away.
But that’s not the case for UFC169, a live pay-per-view event scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.
Just three weeks away from UFC 169, then-bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz suffered a groin tear, forcing him out of the main event with interim champion Renan Barao. The injury piled more bad luck on Cruz, who has been sidelined since late 2011 with a knee injury. As a result, Cruz vacated his title, and Urijah Faber (30-6) is stepping up to face Barao (31-1), who was named bantamweight champion.
“I hate what happened to Dominick Cruz, but I’m more pumped up about this fight now,” said John Morgan, mixed martial arts writer for USA Today. “Urijah Faber versus Renan Barao could be a classic. I think the familiarity between these two opponents makes it a very interesting matchup.”
There are plenty of reasons to get excited over the Faber-Barao matchup:
- Barao owns a remarkable 21-fight winning streak.
- Faber is coming off a fabulous year after winning four consecutive fights in 2013.
- Barao has never been taken down in his six UFC fights.
- Faber is he No. 1 contender and a former WEC champion.
- Barao owns the highest takedown defense rate (95.2%) in UFC/WEC bantamweight history.
- Faber has the most wins (11) by submission in UFC/WEC history.
“It was super unexpected to have (UFC president) Dana (White) call me and offer me the opportunity to step in and fight for the UFC world championship,” said Faber. “When you get an opportunity, you take it, and that’s what I did. I keep in shape. I feel good all the time so it didn’t take me long before I said, ‘Alright man, let’s do it.’ I’m going to step in and take the belt.”
Faber and Barao have a history. When the two step into the Octagon on Saturday, it’ll be the second time in just 18 months that they’ll be fighting for the title again. Back at UFC 149, Barao won a five-round unanimous decision.
“After that fight with Barao, I had to change my attitude,” said Faber. “I couldn’t think about the missed opportunities, and I had to get back to understanding how lucky I am to be in the situation I am. I got back to that mentality and the result was 2013.”
In Barao, Faber will face a champion that does everything well – striking, wrestling and defense.
“For sure I consider myself the best bantamweight of the world,” said Barao. “Those who doubt me will see it on the 1 st. I’m going to knock him out.”
Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas
Listed as the co-main event, the Aldo-Lamas matchup could easily stand on its own as a main event. Without question, Aldo (23-1-0) is the best featherweight ever. There’s no debate. On the UFC website, Aldo ranks as the second best pound-for-pound fighter just below light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
In Lamas (13-2), Aldo will face a fighter who is 4-0 in the UFC with quality wins over Matt Grice, Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch
Also consider the following Aldo-Lamas facts:
- Aldo owns the most wins (13) in UFC/WEC featherweight history.
- Lamas is 4-0 in the UFC and ranked No. 2 in the division.
- Aldo has the most KO/TKOs (9) in UFC/WEC featherweight history.
- Three of the last four wins by Lamas came by way of stoppage.
“(Lamas) is a guy who somewhat flown under the radar, but he’s been flying under that radar while winning fights in pretty impressive fashion,” said Jeff Wagenheim, MMA writer for Sports Illustrated.
Lamas last fought on Jan. 26, 2013, at UFC on Fox 6 where he scored a second-round KO over Koch. Aldo fought twice in 2013, defending his title against Chan Sung Jung at UFC 163 and Frankie Edgar at UFC 156.
“I think my style can stand up to any of my opponents,” said Aldo. “I have a unique combination because I can strike, fight on the ground. I think (Lamas) is a complete fighter with great striking and takedowns. I think he deserves to be where he’s at.”
During his recent UFC fights, Lamas said that he’s been the underdog in most of his fights but always walked away the winner.
“I see a guy who if I hit hard enough on the chin, he will go down,” said Lamas. “If I choke hard enough, he will tap out. So I’m not going to be another statistic. I’m coming in for his belt. I’m coming in to win.”
Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem
Although not a title fight, Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem is one of the most intriguing fights of the night. Not too long ago, both former heavyweight champions held title aspirations.
Unfortunately for Mir (16-8), he has lost his last three fights. Junior dos Santos stopped Mir in a title fight, and he lost to Daniel Cormier in a one-sided decision. More recently, Josh Barnett defeated Mir in less than two minutes at UFC 164.
Overeem (36-13), who once needed less than three minutes to stop former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, has been knocked out in both of his recent appearances against Travis Browne and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
On Saturday, Mir and Overeem meet in a crucial bout that’s more about UFC survival than a title. No doubt, it will be interesting.
UFC 169 Undercard
Pay Per View (10 p.m. ET /. 7 p.m. PT)
- Flyweights: John Lineker (23-6) vs. Ali Bagautinov (12-2)
- Lightweights: Jamie Varner (21-8-1) vs. Abel Trujillo (11-5)
Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT)
- Lightweights: John Makdessi (12-2) vs. Alan Patrick (11-0)
- Flyweights: Chris Cariaso (15-5) vs. Danny Martinez (17-4)
- Middleweights: Nick Catone (9-4) vs. Tom Watson (16-6)
- Lightweights: Al Iaquinta (7-2-1) vs. Kevin Lee (6-0)
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT)
- Middleweights: Clint Hester (9-3) vs. Andy Enz (8-0)
- Lightweights: Tony Martin (7-0) vs. Rashid Magomedov (15-1)
- Welterweights: Neil Magny (8-4) vs. Gasn Umalatov (14-2-1)
Broadcasting UFC 169
UFC 169 takes place live on pay-per-view TV from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
To order the PPV event for your sports bar or restaurant, call Joe Hand Promotions at 1-800-557-4263.