Super Bowl weekend is rapidly approaching, and one of the biggest weekends of the year for sports will bring fans great entertainment. It won't just be a football weekend, though, as the UFC returns to its pay-per-view roots with UFC 169 from New Jersey.
Headlined by two title fights, UFC 169 will be a pivotal event for many of the fighters involved on the card. Not only will two men emerge as the clear No. 1 fighters in their respective divisions, but others will rise to the top and potentially earn a title shot or jump into the title picture.
As if you need them, here are five reasons you should watch UFC 169 this weekend.
There are not one, but two title fights that will go down at UFC 169. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo defends his strap against Ricardo Lamas, while bantamweight ace Renan Barao puts his gold up against Urijah Faber.
Aldo has been almost untested since stepping foot in the Octagon, beating the likes of Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar and Chan Sung Jung in impressive fashion. His violent style features brutal striking that scurries away his opponents, many of whom have been extinguished with extreme prejudice.
His challenger is a hard-nosed wrestler who seemingly has the style to make him uncomfortable. Lamas has the ability to put Aldo on his back and lay down some ground-and-pound, which could make him more of a contender than people are giving him credit for.
Barao, who was just upgraded to the undisputed champion when Dominick Cruz was yet again unable to compete, has not lost an MMA bout since his pro debut in 2005. He is 6-0 in the UFC, looking like a dynamo in the process.
He rematches Urijah Faber, whom he fought to a unanimous decision win back at UFC 149. Things are somewhat different though, in that Faber has been on a tear since that loss, slicing and dicing all who have stood in his way.
If you can't get behind two title fights come this weekend, I don't know what you can get behind in MMA.
Former UFC champion Frank Mir and former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem have fallen on some hard times as of late.
Mir was riding a three-fight win streak when he got the call to face then-champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 146. That was the beginning of a losing streak that has the former champ against the ropes.
After getting violently dispatched by dos Santos, Mir was outmuscled by Daniel Cormier and quickly drubbed by Josh Barnett in his last outing. One has to believe four losses in a row wouldn't be good for the security of Mir's job in the UFC.
Overeem has had a similar rough past few outings as well. After failing a drug test for a promised title bout against dos Santos, Overeem has gone on to get brutalized in his last two fights.
After beating Antonio Silva for the better of two rounds, Overeem found himself on the receiving end of one of the most spectacular stoppages of 2013, as Silva barraged the former K-1 champion with meat hook punches. That would be followed up by a devastating kick from Travis Browne that rendered Overeem unconscious.
Both men are winless in a combined five fights. Perhaps the loser walks and the winner stays, but you'll have to wait and see what happens this weekend.
There are two questions coming into the John Lineker-Ali Bagautinov fight that need to be considered. Does the winner get a title shot at Demetrious Johnson, and will Lineker make weight?
Right now, there really isn't a clear contender at 125 pounds, though one can make the argument that John Dodson should get another crack at Johnson. For the two participants here, they come into this fight in impressive fashion, as Lineker is on a four-fight surge, while Bagautinov is 2-0 since entering the UFC.
The winner could certainly be a contender to Johnson, but one of the participants has bigger fish to fry before he even steps in the cage at UFC 169.
Lineker has been involved in five UFC bouts. Of those five, he has missed weight three times.
Think about that. He has been on weight just 40 percent of the times he has fought for the company.
That's usually grounds for expulsion, but his finishing rate makes him hard to get rid of, as he has put down three of his four victims via knockout.
Will Lineker finally make weight against the Russian or will he be on the outs with the company for his continued struggles with the scales? That gives you not only a reason to watch the pay-per-view, but the weigh-ins as well!
The UFC has gone on a signing spree when it comes to snapping up Russian talent. If you don't believe me, just look at the undercard for some of the near-future cards.
UFC 169 is no different. Two Russian prospects are set to make their UFC debuts in Gasan Umalatov and Rashid Magomedov. Both men are fighters who you should keep your eyes on this weekend.
Magomedov is no joke. He is a Master of Sports in boxing, hand-to-hand combat and Sambo, showing that he is not only well-rounded, but world class in the things he does well. He enters the UFC at 15-1, where he has defeated notables such as recent UFC signee Alexander Yakoviev, UFC vet Igor Araujo and Bellator tournament winner Magomedrasul Khasbulaev.
He takes on fellow debutant Tony Martin on the UFC Fight Pass portion of the prelims. Magomedov is a guy that can carve a path like Khabib Nurmagomedov has in the UFC, so make sure you keep a watchful eye on him.
As for Umalatov, what you will get is a nasty ground fighter with slick submissions and solid experience in the Russian MMA scene. "Cobra" is a lesser-known entity than Magomedov but still looks to be a solid addition to the welterweight division.
He draws Neil Magny in his first bout, a guy who will try to grind him and test his gas tank. An impressive showing against Magny could really put Umalatov on the map of potential dark horses at 170 pounds.
If you have never experienced a Super Bowl weekend that includes this biggest event in football and one of the biggest events in MMA of the year, you are missing out.
A weekend that includes an intriguing Super Bowl game between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos is good to start off with. Extending that Super Bowl party to a double-title fight pay-per-view with some of the biggest stars in this sport makes the weekend even better.
So have a UFC 169 party. Then have a Super Bowl party. Buy some chips, beer and hors d'oeuvres. Make a betting pool on the games and the fights. Connect the surround sound, ready your favorite seat and make sure you can stay awake for all the action.
It could be one of the best weekends of an early 2014 that you can get.