Renan Barao and Urijah Faber once again face off to decide the future of the bantamweight division.
UFC on Fox 10 is in the books. The results are as follows:
UFC on Fox 10 Main Card
- Benson Henderson def. Josh Thomson, Split decision (47-48, 48-47, 49-46)
- Stipe Miocic def. Gabriel Gonzaga, Unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
- Donald Cerrone def. Adriano Martins, TKO (Round 1, 4:40)
- Jeremy Stephens def. Darren Elkins, Unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Fox Sports 1 Prelims
- Alex Caceres def. Sergio Pettis, Submission (Round 3, 4:39)
- Eddie Wineland def. Yves Jabouin, TKO (Round 2, 4:16)
- Chico Camus def. Yaotzin Meza, Unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Hugo Viana def. Junior Hernandez, Unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Daron Cruickshank def. Mike Rio, TKO, (Round 2, 4:56)
- George Sullivan def. Mike Rhodes, Unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
UFC Fight Pass Prelim
- Nikita Krylov def. Walt Harris, TKO (Round 1, 0:25)
Next up? UFC 169.
Headlined by not one but two title fights in Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas, and backed up by numerous fun matchups, UFC has the makings of a strong card. All that the night before the Super Bowl!
What should you be talking about going into the card? Find out right here!
UFC 168 pulled in strong numbers. Will UFC 169 continue that momentum?
There are a lot of moving factors with this card that could impact the buyrate, and it will be very interesting to see where it ultimately lands.
Jose Aldo and Renan Barao have both historically been incredibly weak draws. That said, the UFC has generally done well on Super Bowl weekend cards. Too bad they also do less-than-awesome when they ask fans to buy two pay-per-views within a month...especially when one happens to feature possibly the biggest draw in MMA. Urijah Faber was added to UFC 169, though, and he drew a respectable 350,000 buys when he fought Dominick Cruz in the main event of UFC 132.
This is also a stacked card, but fans don't necessarily buy stacked cards. UFC 136 is a prime example: Jose Aldo vs. Kenny Florian was the co-main event to Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 3. Even with serious backup in the form of Lauzon vs. Guillard, Phan vs. Garcia 2 and a top contender bout between Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann, it drew 225,000 buys.
The pieces are in place for this to either be a decent night for the UFC or an utter dud.
Yeah. The NFL is really, really stupid.
We all know about their dumb habits when it comes to handing out the rights to hosting the Super Bowl. It has bitten them on numerous occasions in the past, but their lust for money trumps sense (and conscience) every time.
They are looking at a potential blizzard hitting the Super Bowl and are pondering moving it to Saturday. If they do, that's really bad news for the UFC.
It's unclear how the UFC would handle such a situation, but here's hoping we don't have to choose between the two.
Ali Bagautinov and John Lineker are basically the top contenders by default right now.
While Demetrious Johnson is starting to get some recognition as one of the UFC's best fighters, there's no question that he has put UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby into an awkward position when it comes to potential opponents. By beating John Dodson, Ian McCall, Joseph Benavidez (twice) and John Moraga, there are basically no particularly strong contenders left at this time.
The only guys right now who are even remotely pitchable as contenders would be John Lineker and Ali Bagautinov. The two facing off? Well, it's kind of hard to argue that the winner wouldn't be the next in line to fight for the belt.
Lineker has caused waves with his inability to make weight and his ability to knock people out cold. Bagautinov has just two UFC wins under his belt, but he knocked out his first opponent and took a decision win over a surging Tim Elliott.
Neither of them would be even remotely close to a title shot in another division. There's no question about that. The flyweight division is a unique (shallow) beast that has a vacuum at the top that both of these guys are capable of filling.
Which fighter will make the most of that opportunity?
No fighter currently on the UFC's roster has missed weight as consistently as John Lineker.
If it weren't for John Lineker's propensity for missing weight, he would almost certainly be lined up for a title fight with Demetrious Johnson already. In three of his five flyweight bouts, however, he has weighed in above 126 pounds.
The problem for the UFC, though, is that he just keeps winning. He has the second-longest winning streak in the flyweight division (behind only Johnson, of course) and three of his most recent wins have come by knockout. His only loss in the UFC came from Louis Gaudinot, who has since been beaten by Tim Elliott (who has since been beaten by Ali Bagautinov).
That is the long way of saying nothing stands in Lineker's path towards a title shot but himself (and Ali Bagautinov, I suppose).
So will he buck the trend of fighting at flyweight-ish? Will his Brazilian Mike Dolce prove to be as good as the real thing? We'll see Friday!
Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir are both veterans who have been terribly knockout-prone of late.
Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir are two of MMA's most enduring, successful heavyweight fighters. They've both been fighting for well over a decade, and have both battled with, and beat, some of the biggest names in MMA.
Now, though, with both of them riding losing streaks into this fight, it almost certainly seems like one of them will be waving goodbye to the Octagon in a permanent way.
Mir has dropped three in a row. The first was the knockout against Junior dos Santos in his unlikely UFC 146 title fight. The second was that ugly decision loss to Daniel Cormier. The third was when he was dropped by a brutal Josh Barnett knee. A fourth loss in a row would almost certainly see him get pressured into retirement by the UFC brass that lured him into the Octagon all the way back in 2001.
Overeem, meanwhile, has twice been brutally knocked out after mounting early leads. That is quite concerning given the fact that Overeem's lengthy career has been spotted with brutal knockouts throughout. Chins never get better with time, and while Overeem still clearly has the striking skills to take wins over a good portion of the UFC's roster, he knows that his back is against the wall heading into UFC 169.
Unless this fight ends in controversial fashion, expect one of these two to hang up their UFC gloves (and potentially end up fielding offers from Bellator) in the coming months.
Ricardo Lamas is coming off a year-long layover since wrecking Erik Koch.
Ricardo Lamas has been the featherweight top contender for well over a year now, but the UFC has been reluctant to give him a championship bout because of their penchant for burying him on cards.
Seriously! He got booked underneath Cub Swanson at UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida—after he submitted Swanson. What's up with that?
Anyway, that aside, he will be over a year removed from his last fight once he steps in the cage against Jose Aldo. That is a long time, especially for a 31-year-old who is actually still relatively new to the featherweight division and will now be slated for his first five-round fight since 2008.
He was on a downright scary run before the UFC kept pulling fights out from under him, beating Matt Grice (by TKO), Cub Swanson (by submission), Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch (by TKO). He has strong grappling chops but his striking has been steadily improving since dropping to 145 pounds.
So will he be able to overcome the ridiculously bad odds people are placing on him? Sitting at +425, can he pull off one of MMA's biggest upsets?
Jose Aldo has been looking the part of the most overrated champion in the UFC for the last three years.
Back in 2010, there was no fighter that was scarier than Jose Aldo. He was the new Wanderlei Silva, a force of nature that seemed committed to destroying other professional ass-kickers.
Then he joined the UFC.
Could it be the stiffer competition? Could he have hit some sort of biological wall when it comes to cutting weight? Did the divorce from Ed Soares and Black House take a toll on his training? All of the above?
I don't know. I just know that he hasn't been the same since knocking out Manny Gamburyan.
Aldo, for whatever reason, has consistently seemed content emptying his small gas tank in the first two rounds then coasting to a decision. Sometimes a random Overeem-power knee or an opponent's arm falling off gets in the way of that plan, but that's not usually the case.
Usually, he gets those two early rounds then coasts to a decision win.
So what will we see from him this time? Will he finally outright demand to move to lightweight after years of hinting?
Dominick Cruz's future is a complete mystery right now.
That picture above is Dominick Cruz during the good times, riding high as the WEC bantamweight champion with a bright future lying ahead in the UFC. It has been a really, really long three and a half years since that picture was taken.
Right now, things are very different. Obviously, he doesn't have a belt anymore. He's out for six to eight weeks as of announcing his withdrawal from UFC 169 (which would be three to five more weeks as of today), and doesn't have an opponent or a date in mind for when he returns.
That means there are loads of possibilities and no real way to accurately guess what could possibly wind up happening with this tragic figure. The questions when it comes to Cruz are as follows:
- When is he coming back?
- Will he end up fighting for the belt immediately?
- Will he end up getting a tune-up fight or two?
- If he gets a tune-up fight, will it be a legitimate squash match, or could he get thrown in against the loser of the UFC 169 main event?
- Will he be physically in-shape after so long out of the cage?
- Will he be technically in-shape after so long out of the cage?
- Will he be mentally in-shape after so long out of the cage?
- What will his drawing power be like?
So indeed, plenty to consider when it comes to Cruz's future.
Urijah Faber, perhaps unfairly, has the ever-lingering label of "choker" following him.
You have heard the jokes. Urijah Faber is the permanent top contender. He always will be the permanent top contender because he will never win the belt.
It's true, of course, that Faber has been comfortably lounging in the No. 2 spot in the bantamweight rankings since he joined the division back in 2011. Before that, he was swinging in a hammock as the No. 2 featherweight. Also? Four challenges for the belt in less than four years.
The thing that gets lost in all that, of course, is that Urijah Faber is really good. For the first time in a while, we got reminded of that by watching him truck through four top-10 bantamweights (for whatever that's worth) inside a calendar year.
He is once again getting a chance to walk away with a belt around his waist, but this time riding a four-fight winning streak.
Faber was handily outlanded by Barao in their last go, so now we get to see if the addition of Duane "Bang" Ludwig to Team Alpha Male is a legitimate game-changer for Faber, or if his presence is much ado about nothing (or much ado about not-that-much) when it comes to the already excellent camp.
Faber is as good a grappler as almost anybody else at 135 pounds, but found himself at a serious disadvantage against both Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao in the striking departments. Few coaches have been hyped as thoroughly as the Muay Thai-focused Ludwig, but Chad Mendes, Joseph Benavidez and TJ Dillashaw were all winning before Ludwig's arrival.
If Faber can stand with Barao and can match him punch for punch, that will show that Ludwig truly is the wizard he has been built up as and it will almost certainly guarantee that Urijah Faber will be the new UFC bantamweight champion.
Renan Barao simply isn't a draw for the UFC, even in Brazil.
Hey, you know how Dana White keeps hyping up Renan Barao? Like really, really hard? To the point where he's saying absolutely ridiculous things like that Barao is a win away from being MMA's top pound-for-pound fighter?
Well, we all know it's not true. So does he. The thing is, Dana White has to be ridiculous in order to get people to give a crap about Renan Barao.
It isn't entirely Renan Barao's fault. For his part, Barao has certainly looked the part of a fearsome, nearly unstoppable champion. It isn't about being a fearsome champion, though, because Barao simply hasn't beaten anybody you've heard of.
The fault for that lies squarely on the UFC. The promotion doesn't treat the bantamweight division as anything more than an afterthought.
Fans see it when Eddie Wineland goes from title fight to the preliminary portion of a TV event. They see it when a fight between top 10s like TJ Dillashaw and Mike Easton gets booked behind a bout between two anonymous middleweights. And they see it when a top bantamweight like Takeya Mizugaki isn't even consistently booked on the main card of flaccid Fuel TV and Fox Sports 1 cards.
There are other, money-oriented factors that make this a good idea, of course, but that doesn't change the fact that the UFC has basically boxed itself into a corner with the hyper-talented Barao where trotting White out to beg for attention is the only way towards the light.
Champions, though, aren't built up on their own. Champions get established years earlier when they beat contenders that the UFC builds up.
They did it with Georges St-Pierre as they groomed guys like Dan Hardy, Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks over the course of years into worthy, scary contenders, only for GSP to pick them apart with ease (except for Hendricks, of course). Urijah Faber is the first, and perhaps last, fighter that Renan Barao will fight that fits that bill.
If Barao beats Faber, especially in thorough fashion, it may mean something. Or maybe it won't.