In its latest installment, UFC 169 will take place in Newark, New Jersey with two titles on the line. This is a shot at redemption for Urijah Faber, his chance to win a title fight.
It's also a massive proving ground for Jose Aldo, not that he needs it. If Aldo can pick up the victory, he will be at nearly a decade without defeat. He isn't even 27; his talent will only increase over the next few years.
There is also a bout in the heavyweight division with Alistair Overeem facing Frank Mir. On paper it sounds like a great matchup but will need a dramatic ending or tense action packed rounds in order for people to be talking about it the next day.
Here are the UFC 169 picks from the team at TSN 1290's the “Weigh In”. Jordan Cieciwa, Big Marv and Toby… that's right, just Toby. Catch us on air every Saturday at 11:30am ct/12:30pm et.
Renan Barao (31-1-0) vs. Urijah Faber (30-6-0)
Who doesn't love a big title fight? Well if you are Uriah Faber, history says you actually may not. His only losses came at the hands of champions. There are few people in the game as talented as him, especially when it comes to wrestling and the use of unorthodox strikes. He's shown unbelievable skill with elbows off the cage and spinning back fists. His ability to target is second to none. That's only gotten better with the addition of Duane ‘Bang' Ludwig.
Across the cage from him is the very dangerous Renan Barao. Barao came out of obscurity to start dismantling his competition in both the WEC and UFC. He is on nearly a decade long win streak. Ask anyone, except Eddie Wineland, and they'll say he is a submission specialist. He beat Wineland very quickly and with an amazing back kick to start the process. His talent is unquestioned now, and his ability to push the pace will make him hard to beat. So much so that I don't think “The California Kid” can do it.
Barao via fourth round submission
You could make the argument that Urijah Faber was the fighter of the year in 2013. He went 4-0 last year, with only one of his fights going the distance. Even that fight, against Yuri Alcantara, was a dominant decision for Faber. In fact the last time Faber lost was to Renan Barao in 2012. Since then, the California Kid has been more determined than ever. With an incredible improvement in striking thanks to Alpha Male's new coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig.
However, let's not sleep on the champ. Renan Barao took that interim title with his win over Faber and has staked his claimed as not only the 135lb king, but also in the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
It is so hard to pick a winner here. Will Faber choke again in a championship fight situation? I say not this time.
Urijah Faber via unanimous decision
This one should be an amazing fight! Faber had an outstanding 2013 and will look to finally become a UFC Champion, all that stands in his way is Renan Barao, who has the longest current unbeaten streak in active MMA today (33).
This has fight of the night potential and as much as I'd like to see “The California Kid” becoming the UFC champ I believe Renan Barao will have his hand raised in this one.
Renan Barao via decision
Jose Aldo (23-1-0) vs. Ricardo Lamas (13-2-0)
What were you doing when you were 18? If you were an 18-year-old Jose Aldo, you were suffering your last MMA loss. At 27, Aldo has been on a nearly nine-year win streak. Most of those wins are while holding the UFC featherweight title. He is perhaps one of the sharpest fighters in the game. Fortunately, he isn't talked about all that often because it seems to have kept him hungry. Aldo will probably keep this fight standing and use some amazing leg kicks to slow his opponent down.
Though let it be known that Ricardo Lamas is no slouch either. Lamas is on a four-fight win streak of his own and looked great stopping Cub Swanson with a triangle choke and Erik Koch with elbows. The good news for fans, both these athletes stop fights including Aldo who has a 30% decision rate.
That to me is fantastic. I think that, in combination with his skill level, will have this fight ending sometime in the fourth round. We will be treated to a lot of leg kicks and some great movement and skill on display.
Jose Aldo via fourth round TKO
After watching Jose Aldo fight for the past couple of years I've learned two things, he is without a doubt one of the best pound for pound fighters in MMA and it's hard to bet against him. Ricardo Lamas is a real threat but I see Aldo getting his hand raised and us fans being one step closer to an Aldo vs. Pettis super fight.
Jose Aldo via TKO
Jose Aldo is one of those champions that just seems infallible. His striking is fast and vicious, his ground and pound is relentless, he has slick jiu jitsu and is almost impossible to take down. All of that adds up to him being one of the best in the world pound-for-pound.
However, his opponent Ricardo Lamas has this crazy habit of winning fights he shouldn't. Sorry Toby, we've got to put the Aldo vs. Pettis super fight on hold, Lamas is taking this one.
Ricardo Lamas via TKO round 4.
Frank Mir (16-8-0) vs. Alistair Overeem (36-13-0)
This is one of those fights that really means very little in the heavyweight division, but will be interesting to watch. I have a very bad feeling it will end in the first round with a toe hold, but who knows, Mir might try to show off his “highly average” boxing skills.
Let's face it, Alistair Overeem comes into this fight with a bad rap for using drugs (very deserved), and being a one sided fighter. Overeem has no business being in the cage with a jujitsu whiz like Frank Mir. Mir is also not afraid to end a fight with an “uncool” submission. He grabbed Brock Lesnar's toe and threatened to break it.
The loser of this fight probably won't have much longer in the UFC, and I don't know that it's a bad thing. The winner probably won't ever contend for a title, but at least they don't have to retire or go find work somewhere else. It's a simple case of a very impressive K-1 specialist in Overeem, meeting up with a jujitsu guy that will take the submission anyway he can. I expect that Mir will find and exploit the very large weakness that is Overeem's ground game.
Mir via second round submission.
Both these guys are desperate for a win. With Overeem, he beat up Bigfoot for two rounds before his cockiness got the best of him. Against Travis Browne, he almost finished him, but Brown proved too tough and Overeem got caught. In Frank Mir's last fight, he was slow and Barnet destroyed him quickly. Against Cormier, he was slow and lost by decision.
The difference between the two, Overeem still has it, while it looks like Mir does not. Plus, Mir won't be able to weather the early storm like Silva or Browne. It's going to be an early night for both men.
Alistair Overeem via KO round 1
This is a possible “Loser leaves town” fight, with both fighters coming off consecutive losses Mir (3) Overeem (2). Overeem has lost some weight which will help his cardio, I love watching both of these guys fight but in this case I believe Overeem's stand-up will be the difference on Saturday.
Alistair Overeem via TKO