UFC 169: Looking Back at the Best Win for Every Main Card Fighter

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2014

UFC 169: Looking Back at the Best Win for Every Main Card Fighter

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    UFC 169 features five main card fights, and the 10 men competing on the pay-per-view portion of the card all have several fantastic victories.

    This is a rare fight card with significant stakes in each main card bout.

    The two main events will have gold up for grabs in the 135-pound and 145-pound weight divisions. Nova Uniao's Renan Barao and Jose Aldo are putting their titles on the line against Urijah Faber and Ricardo Lamas, respectively.

    Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem will meet in a heavyweight duel that will likely see the loser cut from the organization. Flyweights John Lineker and Ali Bagautinov could be battling for a crack at the 125-pound championship. The PPV opener is a key lightweight tilt between Jamie Varner and Abel Trujillo.

    Every man will try to make this his best performance yet, but for most that will be hard to do.

    This is a look back at the best victories of each competitor on the main card of UFC 169.

Abel Trujillo

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    Abel Trujillo has some fine finishes on the regional circuit, but in the UFC he is 2-1 with one no-contest.

    His best performance to date was his most recent outing at UFC on Fox 9 against Roger Bowling.

    Trujillo and Bowling first met in August, but the bout was ruled a no-contest due to an illegal blow by Trujillo. The UFC signed a rematch after the controversial finish, and the two battled four months later.

    Trujillo picked up the win with a brutal finish in the second round.

    The array of shots delivered to Bowling put Trujillo back on track and made the fans realize what kind of finisher he can be. The finish moved his stock way up in the UFC's lightweight division.

Jamie Varner

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    Longtime MMA veteran Jamie Varner has a list of fights to choose from, but his best performance came at UFC 146 in May 2012.

    Edson Barboza entered the fight card on a roll. He was 10-0, coming off a spinning wheel kick KO of Terry Etim and on his way to becoming a title contender. He was one of the most feared fighters in the division.

    Originally, Barboza was slated to take on Evan Dunham. An injury forced him off the card, and Varner answered the call against a man whom not many were eager to face. He came into that bout all but written off.

    He dominated Barboza and finished the fight in just 3:23. Varner hurt him, smelled blood and was relentless until the referee called a stop to the action.

    The performance put Varner back on the radar.

Ali Bagautinov

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    Sometimes finishes are not always the best performances.

    Ali Bagautinov has plenty of finishes over the course of his 12 career victories, but the majority of those took place in small bouts in Russia.

    In November at UFC 167, he went up against Tim Elliot ,who was ranked in the Top 10 of the flyweight division. A lot of eyes were on Elliot to be a potential title contender in 2014, but Bagautinov had other ideas.

    The three-round bout opened the PPV, and Bagautinov stymied Elliot's momentum with a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).

    The fight would not win any awards, but Bagautinov gave the best performance of his career. He showed his well-rounded skills against a Top 10 opponent and earned the victory. He set himself up for a big flyweight fight at UFC 169.

John Lineker

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    John Lineker has been one of the most exciting fighters under 155 pounds for years. He possesses big power in his hands, and he loves to finish.

    Unfortunately, he has had trouble making weight. In his five UFC appearances, he has missed weight three times. He is 2-1 in those bouts, but I will not look at those two wins when selecting his best performances. They are marred by his inability to meet his obligation.

    I narrowly selected one of his Jungle Fight finishes as his best, but upon further reflection I have chosen his UFC on FX 8 performance instead.

    Lineker nearly finished Azamat Gashimov in the first round, dominating the round. It was most likely a 10-8 round. He could have coasted from that point on, but he did not. That's not his style. It would only take him 67 seconds into the second round to finish off Gashimov.

    The performance finally showed the casual UFC audience what kind of violence he brings into the cage.

Alistair Overeem

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    Alistair Overeem has a laundry list of fantastic performances, so it is not that easy choosing just one.

    His recent heavyweight work has to be placed in the proper perspective. He faced many foes who were simply not his equal. You have to go back to Pride to find some of his best performances.

    His showings against Sergei Kharitonov and Igor Vovchanchyn were quality, but his Pride Total Elimination 2005 performance against Vitor Belfort stands out the most.

    In that fight, Overeem got to showcase his overall skills. He took Belfort down, defended off his back and used his superior striking as well.

    The finish started with a big knee that rocked Belfort following a stand-up. Overeem sensed the finish was imminent and came forward. He locked up his patented guillotine, and Belfort was forced to top just 24 seconds before the end of the round.

    The fight was not quick or featured outright domination, but Overeem got to display a bit of everything before ultimately picking up a big win.

Frank Mir

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    The former UFC heavyweight champion has numerous vicious stoppages to his credit, and that makes picking one difficult.

    The two that stand out are his victories over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. I believe the first fight was his best performance.

    At the time of their first meeting, Nogueira was still very much thought of as indestructible. You might be able to hurt him, but you could not finish him. And eventually, he will find a way to win. That was not the case when Mir got his hands on him.

    Prior to UFC 92, Mir only had one stoppage win due to strikes. No one paid attention to his hands, and surely he was not going to finish Nogueira via strikes.

    That thought was wrong. Mir hurt Nogueira with his fists and was able to get the stoppage in the second round.

    It was a shocking result that made folks think about Mir's total MMA game, and it brought him back in touch with UFC (interim) gold.

Ricardo Lamas

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    Ricardo Lamas is 4-0 in the UFC, and on Saturday he will get a well-earned shot at UFC gold.

    His top performances have come in those four UFC fights, and his best was his bout against Cub Swanson at the first UFC on Fox card.

    The first round was a competitive five minutes.

    Lamas had his moments, but Swanson probably won the first round. In a three-round fight, that means a lot, and Lamas knew his back was against the wall.

    In the second frame, he went to work. He took Swanson down, defended a submission and eventually finished with an arm-triangle.

    He showed his resolve against one of the top fighters in the division and announced himself to the world with a big submission win. He has no more impressive victory on his record to date, but that may change on Saturday.

UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo

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    You could throw a dart and hit a phenomenal performance by Jose Aldo. The UFC featherweight champion will defend his championship for the eighth time, counting his WEC defenses, on Saturday.

    Do you pick a quick knockout like his seven-second flying knee to Cub Swanson's eye, or perhaps do you lean to a five-round battle against top flight competition such as Frankie Edgar?

    It is hard to have a wrong answer in this case, but I have to select the fight that won him the gold.

    Mike Brown was the dominant force in the division. He was a strong wrestler with knockout power, and Aldo dominated him in November 2009.

    Many believed Aldo would win, but the manner in which he did so was astonishing. He made Brown look like he had no business being in the cage with him. It was a true champion vs. No. 1 contender bout, and the champion was embarrassed.

    The ability to do that to top-ranked fighters is rare, and it is why Aldo is one of the pound-for-pound best in the sport.

Urijah Faber

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    Urijah Faber has 30 wins to choose from, and his resume is dotted with plenty of phenomenal performances.

    He is riding a four-fight win streak, and one of those bouts may be his best to date. The former WEC featherweight champion shies away from no man, and he routinely comes out on top. He is a future Hall of Fame fighter.

    His best performance may have been against Raphael Assuncao.

    Assuncao was on a six-fight win streak, and Faber was coming off a loss to Mike Brown. There was a title bid on the line in this January 2010 fight, and Assuncao looked like he had what it takes to earn that shot.

    Faber saw it a different way.

    He knocked Assuncao down, which no other fighter had done. Then he finished the jiu-jitsu black belt with a rear-naked choke. He took Assuncao out of his element and then finished him late in the third round. It was a complete performance.

    Faber has only improved since then, and he continues to look better and better.

UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao

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    Renan Barao is the UFC bantamweight champion; no longer is "interim" a part of that title. At 31-1, with one no-contest, he has a slew of stellar performances.

    His best showing has come under the bright lights of the UFC.

    In early 2013 he met young stud Michael McDonald for the interim UFC Bantamweight Championship. It was his first defense of the title, and McDonald posed several issues for Barao.

    McDonald had his moments and may have won the first round. From that point on, though, it was all Barao. The champion showed why he earned the gold by coming back and battling with a strong challenger.

    He busted up McDonald with an array of strikes before dragging him to the mat in the fourth round. He locked up the arm-triangle and elicited the tap.

    Barao will need to have his best performance to date at UFC 169 to walk away as the undisputed champion against Faber. Both men are entering as the peak of their careers, and Faber represents the top of the food chain. You can erase this performance and replace it with a second win over "The California Kid" if Barao gets his hand raised on Saturday.