UFC 169 is in the books and the show was largely disappointing. 10 decisions in 12 fights made the card seem like it was going on forever and ever and ever. The only truly exciting fight was the main card opener, and the show ended on a sour note with a questionable stoppage. The card seemed decent on paper, but it just didn’t live up to its potential due to some fighters choosing to fight safe, and other fighters just being plain old boring. It was just one of those nights, I guess, and luckily UFC cards rarely turn out that way. Anyway, let’s get onto the winners and losers.
Renan Barao – While the stoppage was questionable, Barao was beating the tar out of Faber beforehand and it only seemed like a matter of time before the bout would have been halted anyway. I’ve never seen anyone, other than maybe Mike Brown back in the WEC days, hit Faber that hard. He’s now the undisputed champ and has knocked off three top challengers already. Honestly, the only intriguing 135-pound fight out there for him is the oft-injured ex-champ, Dominick Cruz.
Jose Aldo – Yes, it’s true that he has gone a while without finishing someone. Yes, he did get off to a relatively slow start against Lamas. And yes, he didn’t have the greatest fifth round (even though he had Lamas mounted early in the stanza). But the dude is beating everyone, to the point that he’s apparently ready to drop the title and move up to 155 so he can fight that champ, Anthony Pettis. It’s hard to hate on a guy that has completely cleaned out a very competitive division – he has beat every single one of the top five challengers in the official UFC rankings. It’s time for a tougher challenge, and Pettis is that guy.
Ali Bagautinov – It wasn’t the best performance ever, but the Dagestani fighter got it done and is now in a good position for a a flyweight title shot. He almost respected Lineker’s power too much and it was kind of odd to watch. He did a lot of things right though, and while I don’t really view him as a massive threat to Demetrious Johnson after that, it’s pretty clear that he’s next in line. Oh, and that clowning he did in the last 10 seconds? Loved it.
Abel Trujillo – He showed a ton of heart by coming back with that thunderous knockout punch after he seemed to be badly hurt. While I don’t see him as a major threat in the division, he’s certainly an exciting fighter and there are a litany of good fights at 155 for him. I’m sure the $125,000 in bonus money he earned for his efforts didn’t hurt either.
Jamie Varner – Varner is making a habit of doing exactly what he didn’t do during his WEC run – he’s going for the finish no matter what. A string of exciting UFC fights have definitely revived his career, and he deserves a lot of credit for taking a tough fight on short notice and being one of the only entertaining fighters on the card. Sure, he made some mistakes and got knocked out. But an exciting loss will earn him more brownie points with the organization than a boring win (see Overeem below), and fans are starting to get behind him as well. So it wasn’t a horrible night for Varner overall.
Urijah Faber – How many title shots has Faber lost now? 19 or something? He’s just stuck right below the best in the world in his weight class, and it has to be immensely frustrating for him. The stoppage didn’t help either. It’s going to be very tough for the UFC to justify another title shot for him unless he can somehow get to 125 lbs, which I don’t think is likely. Faber’s a gamer and he’ll be around for a while longer, but his days in the title picture are probably over. With that being said, he handled it with total class and it’s no surprise that Faber is one of the most well-liked fighters in the sport. But I don’t think that will help him sleep tonight.
Herb Dean – I honestly don’t think his decision to end the fight was that bad. Faber had just done a Flair flop and Barao was battering him with punches. Was Faber’s arm up? Yes. But when Herb Dean asked for something from Faber, he meant something along the lines of “improve your position” or just “move”. Not a thumbs up. Does Dean just let Barao keep punching him all day when Faber’s not moving? It’s a tough position to be in and one of those situations that makes reffing much harder than it looks. But the reality of the situation is that many, including Dana White, believed the stoppage was premature. And that will be damaging to his reputation as one of the top refs in the game.
Alistair Overeem – It’s simple. Overeem played it safe because he needed a win. In most other situations and with a lot of other fighters, that wouldn’t be held against a guy too much. But Overeem was expected to wreck Mir and he didn’t. He came close to finishing him early, but the last two rounds were snoozers and that’s not what fans paid to see. Then he went and called out Brock Lesnar of all people? A guy who isn’t fighting any more and a guy he has already beaten? That was just lame. Fights like this aren’t going to help Overeem as a drawing card, and while he got paid and did what he needed to do, I’m not exactly hyped for his next trip to the octagon.
Frank Mir – He was totally outclassed by a guy that was just coasting over the last two rounds. He landed what, three significant strikes in 15 minutes? Against a guy who doesn’t have an unbreakable chin? He didn’t even get anything at all going from his back, which was disappointing. He has lost four fights in a row and it’s unlikely that he’ll ever be truly relevant in the division again. I’m not one to tell people when to retire, but what else does Mir have to fight for any more? Money seems like the only factor at this point.
John Lineker – I don’t understand the way Lineker fought. He stalked Bagautinov all over the cage, and…didn’t throw any strikes in two of the three rounds. He showed zero urgency most of the time. His takedown defense wasn’t up to par either. I know that I was caught up in the fact that Lineker hits so hard for a flyweight that it because easy to ignore his deficiencies in other areas. Bagautinov exposed all of them in their bout, and knocked Lineker out of the title race in the process. At least we don’t have to worry about Lineker having to make 125 pounds on the dot any time soon.
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