MMA Odds and Ends for Wednesday: UFC 169 Gets Stacked With Two Title Fights

UFC-FUEL Ultimate Fighting Championship¬†yesterday announced that the upcoming UFC 169 event will be a rare card to feature double title fights, as both the featherweight and bantamweight titles will be up for grabs next Feb. 1 in Newark, N.J. In the main event of the evening, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo takes on No. 1 contender Ricardo Lamas, while in the co-main event of the evening, UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz returns from a two-year-injury layoff in an attempt to unify the belt with interim champ Renan Barao. Additionally, Alistair Overeem vs. Frank Mir will also be a part of this card. Getting back to the two title fights, I think both are really solid and intriguing matchups. In the Aldo vs. Lamas fight, Aldo is obviously going to have a huge striking advantage, but we’ve seen against Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian that a strong grappler can give him some issues up against the fence and late in the fight. So if Lamas can survive Aldo’s early onsalught and take this fight to the late rounds, it’s possible he could get on top of Aldo and inflict some damage on him. However, common sense tells me that Lamas isn’t going to survive past the first few rounds, and therefore I’d expect Aldo to open as a pretty big favorite, as he really should take this fight by knockout. In the Barao vs. Cruz fight, this is a matchup I’ve personally been waiting to see for a few years now, ever since both men made it to the UFC after a stint in the WEC. But Cruz has been off for a very long time due to injury and that’s why we haven’t seen this come to fruition yet. If this was the Cruz of old, I’d be picking him to defeat Barao, but after so much time off and so many injuries, it’s really hard to back him in this spot against a younger fighter who is as talented and dangerous as Barao is. Although Cruz is the reigning champ, it wouldn’t shock me at all if Barao was named the favorite entering this bout, but we’ll have to wait and see what the line looks like. Overall, the UFC 169 card — the first PPV of 2014 — is looking extremely stacked and I expect it to be hyped to no end once the new year rolls around. Oh, and one more thing: Lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov wants on this card, and he’s called out Gilbert Melendez, so let’s see what the UFC does with “The Eagle” and if they grant him his wish or not, but this fight definitely makes sense as far as the rankings go.

Written by Adam Martin.

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