Urijah Faber will get his third shot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship's bantamweight belt when he squares up against Renan Barão at UFC 169.
The two will headline the stacked Feb. 1 card which will be held at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The UFC 169 fight card also features a featherweight title tilt between Jose Aldo and Ricardo Lamas, and a loser-leaves-town matchup between Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir.
Here are my predictions for the entire UFC 169 fight card:
Renan Barão vs. Urijah Faber (bantamweight title fight)
Simply put, Barão (31-1-0, 14 submissions) is a beast. The Brazilian hasn't lost a fight since his MMA debut back in 2005. Since then, he's imposed his will on every man brazen enough to share a cage with him, finishing most of his opponents.
Faber (30-6-0, 17 submissions) is more familiar with the taste of defeat, but he's been pretty impressive lately, racking up wins against Scott Jorgensen, Iuri Alcantara, and Michael McDonald.
Faber's striking looked better than ever during his showdown against McDonald, and he's clearly a better fighter than he was the last time he faced Barão -- who defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC 149.
The striking exchanges should be pretty even this time around, so Faber's superior wrestling should give him the edge.
Prediction: Faber wins via decision.
José Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas (featherweight title fight)
Lamas (13-2-0, 4 KOs) is one of the most impressive WEC imports in the UFC featherweight division, compiling a 4-0 record inside the Octagon, with three of his victories coming via stoppage against guys like Cub Swanson and Erik Koch. He's a well-rounded MMA fighter, but he'll have his hands full when he faces Aldo (23-1-0, 14 KOs) at UFC 169.
José has won 16 consecutive bouts, with many of his wins coming against top caliber fighters like Urijah Faber, Kenny Florian, and Chad Mendes.
As impressive as Lamas as been lately, it's hard to see him doing any better against the second-ranked fighter on the UFC's pound-for-pound list.
Prediction: Aldo wins via KO.
Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem
Despite the fact he's dominated a majority of the time he's spent inside the Octagon, Overeem (36-13-0, 19 submissions) is now 1-2 inside the number-one proving ground for MMA fighters, losing to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Travis Browne. His glass-chin has been responsible for both of his losses inside the Octagon.
Mir (16-8-0, 9 submissions) has also had his share of troubles inside the cage lately, losing his last three fights inside the cage, getting knocked out on two occasions.
Alistair is clearly the technically superior striker and his submission skills are often underrated. "The Demolition Man" is also a tough man put on his back, while Mir's takedowns have never been particularly impressive, meaning a majority of the bout will likely be contested standing up.
Prediction: Overeem wins via TKO.
John Lineker vs. Ali Bagautinov
Lineker (23-6-0, 11 KOs) and Bagautinov (12-2-0, 5 KOs) have won three of their last four fights via TKO so it's safe to say this UFC 169 bout won't go the distance. It's a tough fight to call, but I'm leaning towards Bagautinov given how impressive he was during his last bout against Tim Elliot, displaying solid striking and Sambo skills.
Prediction: Bagautinov wins via TKO.
Jamie Varner vs. Abel Trujillo
If you regularly watch UFC fight cards, you're probably a fan of Trujillo (11-5-0, 4 KOs) by now. "Killa" has been impressive ever since he joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship's ranks, racking up wins against Marcus LeVesseur and Roger Bowling, losing only to the fast-rising Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Varner (21-8-1, 11 submissions) on the other hand hasn't been particularly imposing lately, losing two of his last three fights.
Jamie will be the more experienced fighter when the two square off at UFC 169, but that likely won't be enough to get him past Trujillo's explosive striking, athleticism, and solid takedown defense.
Prediction: Trujillo wins via TKO.
Alan Patrick defeats John Makdessi
Danny Martinez defeats Chris Cariaso
Tom Watson defeats Nick Catone
Al Iaquinta defeats Kevin Lee
Clint Hester defeats Andy Enz
Rashid Magomedov defeats Tony Martin
Neil Magny defeats Gasan Umalatov