Its Super Bowl weekend and for us MMA fans that brings about a different kind of excitement because it has been a long standing tradition for the UFC to stack their card the night before “The Big Game”. This year is no different as UFC 169 features 3 fights that some may argue are good enough to Main Event a typical UFC event on their own. Our friends at WarDraft have already posted their Pick 5 for the event – and over at Kountermove, they are featuring a $10 buy in $15k tournament. These games are a perfect way for you all to pad your bankrolls before the Broncos are crowned Super Bowl Champions.
Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET
Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber for bantamweight title
It is crucial for Faber to close the distance in this fight. If he cannot, it will be an extremely long Saturday night. Barao is very hard to take down so I look for Faber to use quick jabs to close the distance and try to force Barao to open up his striking. This task will be easier said than done and Barao will likely use the same formula as in the first fight by relying on leg kicks and keeping the distance en route to a close decision.
Barao via DEC
Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas for featherweight title
Lamas is a good fighter and posts an interesting challenge to Aldo, but I think speed will ultimately be the deciding factor in the fight. Lamas will try to use his wrestling and power to catch Aldo, but I do not think he will be able to. I believe it’s only a matter of time before Aldo tests Lamas’ chin and eventually stops the fight in the middle rounds.
Aldo via TKO round 3
Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem
The is no mystery in Overeem’s strategy. He will come forward and throw bombs. Mir’s ego will likely get the best of him in this fight, as it has in his recent past, and he’ll try to stand and trade with the far superior striker in Overeem. I expect this fight to be over before the halfway point of the 1st round with Overeem crowned the victor and Mir likely being knocked into retirement.
Overeem via KO round 1
Ali Bagautinov vs. John Lineker
Lineker will be coming out looking for the KO right from the opening bell. Once Ali avoids the initial flurry, it’s going to be his fight to lose as Lineker will likely be gassed. Ali will use his superior technique to set up a takedown on the tired Lineker and submit him in the 2nd round.
Bagautinov via SUB round 2
Abel Trujillo vs. Jamie Varner
I’ve been going back and forth on this fight. Even though Varner has good boxing, he is in the danger zone of Trujillo if he decides to trade on the feet. The best move for Varner on Saturday night will be to use his superior wrestling and take this fight to the ground. Trujillo has shown good takedown defense in the past, but in certain fights it has been shaky. I think this is a very close fight and can go either way, however at this point in their careers, I see Varner having a slight edge.
Varner via DEC
FOX Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET
John Makdessi vs. Alan Patrick
Patrick has amassed a nice record in Brazil against lesser competition and had a successful UFC debut on home soil winning by TKO in the 1st round. One aspect of Patrick’s game that could be a major factor in this fight are his sloppy strikes. He has shown the tendency to leave himself open when going on the offensive. If he hasn’t sured up that flaw in his game, Makdessi has the technical ability to exploit that and pick apart Patrick. I look for exactly that to happen as Makdessi earns a decision victory.
Makdessi via DEC
Chris Cariaso vs. Danny Martinez
Martinez is taking this fight on late notice and will rely heavily on his wrestling and top control. Cariaso will look to keep the fight standing and use his superior striking to out-point martinez.
Cariaso via DEC
Nick Catone vs. Tom Watson
Although wrestling is an issue for Watson, I believe he is the superior fighter in this fight. Catone will be looking to capitalize early and often on Watson’s lack of wrestling defense. However, it will be Watson that will get off his punches 1st and prove he is the better fighter.
Watson via TKO round 2
Al Iaquinta vs. Kevin Lee
Iaquinta has the advantage on the feet and should be able to keep the fight standing against the superior grappler. I look for Lee to hang in there for about a round and a half until Iaquinta eventually lands a blow that puts Lee down, winding up in a TKO.
Iaquinta via TKO round 2
UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET
Andy Enz vs. Clint Hester
This fight should be Hester’s coming out party as he is a far superior striker with good takedown defense. Enz needs to get this fight to the ground as fast as possible to take away the most dangerous aspect of Hester’s game. I see Hester imposing his game plan and finishing this fight late in round 1.
Hester via TKO round 1
Rashid Magomedov vs. Tony Martin
This is an interesting fight between 2 fighters that appear to be up and coming prospects. Martin will look to set up a takedown, whereas Magomedov will be looking to keep the fight standing where he can use his counter attacks to impose his game. I think Magomedov is more the more experienced, better fighter at this point in their careers, and will be an interesting addition to the UFC.
Magomedov via DEC
Neil Magny vs. Gasan Umalatov
Umalatov will look to put Magny on his back and work his submission game. That seems to be the perfect strategy as Magny’s wrestling is sub-par and he has not shown to be a very capable grappler up to this point in his career. I look for Umalatov to impose his will and finish this fight by submission.
Umalatov via SUB round 2