UFC 169 Predictions You Can Take to the Bank

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2014

UFC 169 Predictions You Can Take to the Bank

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    When the UFC sets up shop in New Jersey on Saturday night, it will do so in the shadow of the biggest sporting event of the year happening just up the road. It's the promotion's traditional Super Bowl weekend card, happening for the first time in the same city as the game itself.

    Considering that the Broncos and Seahawks are going to provide the world with plenty of chances to make wagers and predictions this weekend, so too should the UFC.

    With that in mind, here are a few UFC 169 predictions you can take to the bank.

Someone Underrated Will Become Properly Rated After Varner-Trujillo

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    Going into UFC 169, there are a pair of lightweights who will face off for stakes that aren't anywhere near a championship belt but are important for each nonetheless.

    Jamie Varner, a former WEC champ who has UFC wins over Edson Barboza and Melvin Guillard, is sort of a forgotten man at 155 lbs. He's routinely good for a barnburner, has all the tools to make an impact and is still young enough for time to be on his side in doing so.

    Across the cage, he'll see Abel Trujillo, a scrappy contender looking to escape the middle of the pack. He's powerful and aggressive and, similarly to Varner, has all the tools to make a name for himself in the sport.

    Both guys are under the radar, but both have the potential to get some attention with a win on one of the bigger UFC cards of the year.

Flyweight Will Have a New Top Contender

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    While no one has really come out and said it, John Lineker and Ali Bagautinov are fixing to claim a shot at Demetrious Johnson with a win on Saturday night. Unless the victor lays a total egg on the way to getting his hand raised, each guy has done enough to warrant a shot at gold with a win over the other at UFC 169.

    Be it Lineker's explosive power or Bagautinov's slick technical expertise, Johnson will have a true challenge when he squares off with Saturday's winner somewhere down the line.

    There are obvious concerns over Lineker's ability to make weight, considering that he needed extra time to get on point once again (after missing in his last two and three of five UFC fights overall), but flyweight is so thin that memory will be short on his weight issues should he win.

    Or Bagautinov wins and everyone talks about him instead.

Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem Won't Need the Judges

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    Two of the all-time great heavyweight finishers collide at the midway point of the card in New Jersey, but the other side of the coin is that both Mir and Overeem are all-time greats at getting finished as well.

    Mir has suffered seven of his eight career losses by (T)KO, while Overeem has been dusted inside distance in 10 of his 13 career defeats. With the added dimension of the loser possibly receiving a pink slip, it's hard to think the big boys will lack motivation to score an impressive win.

    Make no mistake, this fight will not go the distance. It would actually be surprising if it goes beyond the first round.

One Way or Another, People Will Know Who Ricardo Lamas Is

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    Lamas hasn't been well known in his MMA career, largely because of his admirable approach to combat: Let the actions in the cage do the talking. In an era of every idiot with a pair of thumbs tweeting whatever they can cook up while riding the bus to the mall, there's a lot to be said for a guy like Lamas.

    Unfortunately, though, that hasn't led to him being the most relevant guy in the sport.

    That said, if he beats Aldo on Saturday night, he'll instantly become a star, a guy who went in as an underdog and beat a consensus pound-for-pound star of the sport. Should he lose, it's likely going to come after he survives an assault from Aldo for as long as he can, and people will remember that, too.

    One way or another, he won't be an unknown anymore after UFC 169.

Urijah Faber-Renan Barao II Will Look Oddly Familiar

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    Faber and Barao meeting for a second time is interesting. It's a rematch that no one was really asking for, but it offers plenty of storylines to get people's attention. When two guys are so radically different stylistically but not that widely separated in terms of ability, it's the type of thing that people want to see.

    Unfortunately for people who want to see something different than their meeting at UFC 149, that's not going to happen. For all the talk of Faber's continued improvement, Barao has improved just as much since the last fight. He won that one, and nothing Faber did gave him any serious problems.

    Faber is too tough and too smart to get finished, but Barao is too good to let this one get away. He'll take it by decision, and everyone will be reminded of just how much talent these two possess.


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