UFC 169 takes place this weekend in New Jersey and we’ve got our predictions for the all fights for you below.
Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber
Faber has been in great form since his last loss to Barao, but I’m not convinced that’s due to him adding more tools to his belt, he’s just always been a damn good fighter who in recent years has been able to get one-up on pretty much everyone other than the very cream of the crop at 135 and 145lbs.
Faber is eager to turn this into the type of high-paced fight he excels in, and I think that’s a good strategy and he’ll certainly make this a competitive fight, but nonetheless I can’t shake the feeling that he’s still going to come up short on Saturday night, and that’s a testament to just how good of a fighter Barao is more than it is to do with the fact that Faber comes into this rematch on only three weeks notice.
Faber’s best chances will come from wrestling and scrambles on the mat, but Barao is very capable there too, while on the feet the Brazilian is technically superior and will literally and figuratively cause him headaches with his precision striking. Faber’s tough and I think he’ll make it the full five rounds again, but it’s Barao who’ll have his hand raised at the end.
Renan Barao to win by decision.
Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas
Not the most glamorous fight for Aldo here, but Lamas is a dangerous fighter all the same and has definitely earned his place with four big wins against some of the top contenders in the featherweight class.
Both men are well rounded, so this fight should be competitive wherever it goes, but I’d have to give Aldo the nod in the striking department with his speed, power and dynamic range of attacks setting him above his peers. Lamas should hold the edge in the wrestling department though, and may well also have deeper energy reserves to draw on in the championship rounds.
Overall, my feeling on this fight can be summed up by the fact I believe Ricardo Lamas is a very good fighter, but Aldo is a great one. I expect Aldo to start off sharp and fend off any early takedown attempts with strikes and sprawls, and I’m tipping the champion to stop Lamas inside of three rounds.
Jose Aldo to win by TKO in Rd3
Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem
Both of these heavyweight stars have questionable chins at this stage in their careers and don’t react well to taking a hard shot. During his successful run in K-1, Strikeforce and DREAM, Overeem showed good defense to make up for that, but he’s shown signs of carelessness and even arrogance at times in the Octagon that’s cost him dearly. That’s something that can be fixed if he sharpens his focus in this bout.
On the other hand, Mir has shown many number of times in the past that he freezes under a sustained assault and hasn’t ever found a way to solve that, which is a big worry heading into another bout with another heavy-handed striker.
Mir’s best option would be to get this fight to the ground where he holds a major submission advantage and could wrap this fight up quickly, but his takedowns are poor and Overeem showed against the likes of Fabricio Werdum that he can sprawl effectively when required. That’s bad news for Mir and I think he gets clobbered by either a big punch or knee early in the stand-up action and then falls victim to a frenzy of strikes that ends in a knockout.
Alistair Overeem to win by KO in Rd1.
John Lineker vs. Ali Bagautinov
Lineker has been marking himself out as one of the hardest punchers in the lighter weight categories recently, helped by his aggressive, and at times slightly reckless, striking style.
Bagautinov is more methodical in his approach, but still packs a punch while also holding an advantage on the ground which could well come in handy.
There’s a good chance someone’s going to get finished in this fight given the firepower on display, and while it could go either way I favor Baguatinov to choose his shots more carefully and stop Lineker in his tracks mid-way through the fight.
Ali Bagautinov to win by TKO in Rd2.
Jamie Varner vs. Abel Trujillo
There’s a good chance this one turns into a stand-up slugger, though Varner would do well to also mix in wrestling into the equation to gain the upper-hand.
At times Varner can look a little jaded, almost as if nagging injuries are holding him back from being at his best, but he can ill-afford to give anything but his very best against Trujillo who isn’t the most well-rounded or technical fighter, but does go all out for the finish from the opening bell with vicious punches and knees.
If Varner uses his wrestling he can win by decision, but he has a tendency to be drawn into a firefight and this is one that I think he may end up losing.
Abel Trujillo to win by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
John Makdessi vs. Alan Patrick
Chris Cariaso vs. Danny Martinez
Nick Catone vs. Tom Watson
Al Iaquinta vs. Kevin Lee
Clint Hester vs. Andy Enz
Tony Martin vs. Rashid Magomedov
Neil Magny vs. Gasan Umalatov