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UFC 169: Fighters with the Most to Gain

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2014

UFC 169: Fighters with the Most to Gain

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    UFC 169 this Saturday will not only mark one of the promotion's biggest events of the year, but it will serve as a chance for a handful of fighters to redeem themselves.

    From Urijah Faber to Alistair Overeem, the stacked pay-per-view card features an array of well-known Octagon assets looking to cash in on second chances, or third.

    But which fighter has the most to gain?  With a win this weekend, which main card draw bolsters higher value than his peers?

    Look no further. 

Jamie Varner

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    Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    Since returning to the UFC in 2012, lightweight veteran Jamie Varner has been unable to record consecutive victories.

    He has gone 2-2 in the process, including a sensational TKO finish of Edson Barboza and a submission loss to Joe Lauzon. His second tenure in the promotion has been rocky, to say the least.

    That's why he has everything to gain if he's able to stop the thunderous roar of Abel "Killa" Trujillo this Saturday. Varner will be stepping in on short notice for the injured Bobby Green.

    If the 29-year-old journeyman can snuff the Blackzilian's momentum, he'll once again cement himself just outside of the division's Top 10. 

Ricardo Lamas

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    As an unspoken good fella, one who has quietly picked up four straight Octagon victories, it's often difficult for Chicago's Ricardo Lamas to achieve worldwide recognition.

    However, if he were to knock off Jose Aldo at UFC 169 and claim the featherweight crown, all will be well.

    Not for nothing, but the guy deserves every ounce of stardom he has earned.

    What makes him even more prone for success is the fact that his parents are of Cuban and Mexican decent. That means he could spearhead a south-of-the-border invasion if he's able to win gold this weekend.

    If he does, Lamas' world will change beyond belief. His future appeal and organizational value would multiply overnight.

Alistair Overeem

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    With one of the largest followings in mixed martial arts, heavyweight dynamo Alistair Overeem is as popular as they come.

    He has already accomplished so much in the sport and has created such buzz internationally that it seems silly to position him on this list.

    However, when you take into account that "The Reem" is only 1-2 in the UFCan organization leaps and bound beyond its rivals when it comes to world-class talentthe mind begins to race.

    Was he ever really that good? Were his destructive tendencies inside the cage a product of subpar competition?

    These are questions that the 33-year-old Dutchman can put to rest if he can put to sleep the always formidable Frank Mir.

Urijah Faber

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    When you look at Urijah Faber's resume, you can't help but drop your jaw in disbelief.

    Each of his six career defeats have all been title fights. In fact, more than 50 percent of his professional bouts have been title fights.

    He is known as one of the hardest-working fighters in the sport and one of the most polarizing athletes in the world, despite his inability to win UFC gold.

    That inability, which is meant in the most respectful manner possible, is the reason why Faber lands on this list. Despite numerous WEC title defenses and 25 career finishes, "The California Kid" hasn't captured a UFC championship.

    That's what matters most at the end of the day.

    If he's able to avenge his previous loss to Renan Barao at UFC 169, Faber will forever solidify his role as an international superstar. 

Renan Barao

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    Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

    Renan Barao has never headlined a UFC pay-per-view in America. Hell, he has never even fought on the East Coast.

    What matters the most for him coming into UFC 169 this Saturday is the fact that he's never had to defend the true UFC bantamweight title.

    Sure, he has swarmed opponents in the past to remain the promotion's interim king, but he's never had to shoulder the load of an entire division.

    Until now, the 26-year-old Brazilian was considered a "fill-in titleholder" for the always injured Dominick Cruz.

    Well, now that Cruz has finally relinquished his crown, the expectations and professional responsibilities of Barao are sure to grow.

    So, this is essentially his time to shine. His time to create a reign of excellence in a division so scarce of key top contenders.

    If he's going to do it, he needs to stop Urijah Faber for a second time.

     

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