A stacked card on Super Bowl weekend has become a bit of a tradition in the UFC, and Saturday, Feb. 1's UFC 169 lineup is sure to continue that excellent tradition.
Headlining the event will be not one, but two championship bouts, as featherweight champion Jose Aldo seeks to make his sixth consecutive UFC title defense since joining the organization as the WEC champion. Capping off the night will be a rematch between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao for the former's bantamweight title.
Throw in a colossal heavyweight tilt between Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir and you've got the recipe for the perfect lead-in to Super Bowl Sunday.
Here's a look at the complete main card with predictions for each bout and a closer look at the night's three biggest matches.
|Bantamweight||Renan Barão (c) (-365)||vs.||Urijah Faber (+275)||Bantamweight Championship|
|Featherweight||José Aldo (c) (-800)||vs.||Ricardo Lamas (+500)||Featherweight Championship|
|Heavyweight||Frank Mir (+325)||vs.||Alistair Overeem (-450)|
|Flyweight||John Lineker (+125)||vs.||Ali Bagautinov (-155)|
|Lightweight||Jamie Varner (-125)||vs.||Abel Trujillo (-105)|
Odds via Bovada
Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem
Once upon a time, a matchup between Mir and Overeem could have been considered a legitimate title eliminator fight. Now it's just a high-profile bout between two aging stars trying to get back on track.
Mir, a former UFC heavyweight champion, is entering the bout at 34 years old and in desperate need of a victory after losing his last three bouts to Junior dos Santos, Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett. While disappointing, that's a murderer's row of quality opponents, so it's not safe to count out Mir just yet.
His opponent isn't exactly experiencing the pinnacle of his career, either. Overeem has been finished in his last two bouts since steamrolling Brock Lesnar in his UFC debut. Another lopsided loss would certainly put his future in jeopardy.
The most glaring difference between these two will be in the stand-up department. According to FightMetric, Overeem is the superior striker in terms of accuracy, volume and defense. "The Reem" has struggled with powerful strikers in his last few fights. Mir is not one of them.
Prediction: Overeem by TKO in Rd. 2
Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas
This bout's a candidate for most underrated match of the card if there ever was one. Aldo never seems to get the credit he's due as a nearly unbeatable champion. He's 23-1 in his career and has defended his belt in the Octagon five times now.
Lamas is the ultimate underrated challenger. After being passed over for the likes of Chan Sung-Jung in the past, his perfect 4-0 record in the UFC has finally earned him a crack at the belt.
Although Aldo has showed few holes in his game while racking up an unblemished 5-0 mark in the UFC, Lamas is still a dangerous opponent. In his four UFC bouts, he has two wins by TKO, a submission victory and another win by decision. He has skills for wherever the fight goes.
It's not enough just to be a jack of all trades against the likes of Aldo, though. Expect him to pick apart the challenger with his signature leg kicks all night.
Prediction: Aldo by Decision
Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber
Speaking of dominant champions, Barao will look to extend his winning streak to 32 against a familiar foe in Faber.
Barao got his title reign started by defeating Faber by unanimous decision for the interim bantamweight title back at UFC 149. That fight wasn't all that close, but since the loss Faber has done nothing but win. He now enters the bout with a four-fight win streak.
The number that Faber probably focused on most in his training camp was zero. That's how many of his six takedown attempts were successful against Barao, as Faber was unable to get him to the ground.
Part of the problem for Faber was that all six of those attempts were in Rounds 3 and 4. He'll need to start mixing it up a lot sooner than that if he wants to change the results this time around.
Prediction: Barao by Decision