UFC 169: Predicting the Fight Night Bonus Winners

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2014

Aug 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Urijah Faber (left) fights Yuri Alcantara (right) during a UFC bantamweight match at the TD Garden. Faber won by judges decision. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

What better way to spend Super Bowl Eve than huddled in front of a television watching Octagon excellence?

Besides maybe seeing your firstborn son take his first steps, there really isn't.

Dressed to impress, UFC 169 this Saturday has all the fixings for "Event of the Year."  Scattered throughout the card are two title fights, a titanic heavyweight collision with epic proportions, two heavy-handed flyweights, an undefeated Tristar prodigy and a lightweight nicknamed "Killa."

As if it needs to be said, do not miss this weekend's brutality.

But despite the potential on paper, what fights really have a chance of producing? Which fighters will impress the most en route to capturing one of the UFC's lucrative Fight Night bonuses?

Look no further:


Fight of the Night—Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber

Considering the unfortunate circumstances that Faber encountered the first time he met Barao inside the cage—with his sister's tragic car crash and having not competed in nearly 11 months—it's likely that he'll perform much better in the rematch.

Currently riding one of the most impressive win streaks in MMA right now, "The California Kid" will carry unprecedented momentum to the cage Saturday night at UFC 169. But will it be enough to beat a champion that hasn't been defeated since his very first professional bout over eight years ago?

It all depends.

Faber was able to touch up Barao the first time around, but it was the Brazilian's athleticism and long range that allowed him to capture a relatively one-sided decision.

However, Faber did suffer a rib injury in the very first round of their five-round war, so it's possible things could have ended differently had he been able to maintain health throughout. But that's the name of the game, and Faber ultimately paid for his mistakes with a knee to his body.

With all of that said, the 34-year-old Team Alpha Male standout has never looked better. But neither has Barao. Every single time we see the 26-year-old champ take center stage, he seems to add more layers to an already bulletproof arsenal.

So while it's truly difficult to predict a winner, it isn't so hard to suggest that these two elite bantamweights will produce one of the best fights of the year. There's no way Faber is going down without a fight, and there's no chance in hell Barao relinquishes his belt without leaving everything he has on the floor of New Jersey's Prudential Center.


Knockout of the Night—Alistair Overeem

Like a rat pinned down by gang of cats, Overeem has his back against the wall entering Saturday's heavyweight showdown with former champion Frank Mir.

He has lost back-to-back fights since nearly decapitating Brock Lesnar back in 2011 and has lost almost all of the momentum he possessed when he was signed nearly three years ago.

Feb 2, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Allistar Overeem (left) and Antonio Silva (right) during UFC 156 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

So while both fighters need a victory at UFC 169 to prolong their stay in the biggest promotion in the world, it is Overeem who must win to cement his legacy in the sport.

Because if the big guy can't hack it in the UFC, was he ever really that good?

It's a question that the slick-kicking Dutchman will answer when he gets inside and clinches with Mir.  Josh Barnett recently showcased Mir's inability to take damage up close when the two met back at UFC 164.

Combine that with the fact that Overeem possesses the very best Muay Thai around and you have a recipe for Knockout of the Night. A flashy finish over a guy like Mir is a quick way for Overeem to make people forget about his recent mid-fight collapses.


Submission of the Night—Jamie Varner

In arguably the most overlooked fight on the entire card, Varner will attempt to fill in for an injured red-hot Bobby Green and stop the hard-hitting Abel Trujillo.

Now, as strong and aggressive as Trujillo is on his feet, Varner is simply too crafty and game to count out. He may find out the hard way that going toe to toe with the Blackzilian is a bad idea, but he has recovered from big shots in the past.

If Varner is able to sustain the murderous onslaught that Killa is going to offer early, then he should find a way in the later rounds to sink in a submission on a less-than-tired opponent. That's assuming Trujillo doesn't come straight out of the gate and clock Varner into the next decade.

Either way, nine career submissions and a knack for the unimaginable suggest that the 29-year-old Varner could stop the bruising Trujillo in his tracks.


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