It's superbowl weekend and we have a great PPV card on deck just before the big game on Sunday. The Prudential Center will host UFC 169 as two championship belts will be on the line. It should be a good night of fights as the main card is pretty stacked and although the preliminary fights feature a lot of unknowns, we might just be forced to get to know them if they perform well enough. Renan Barao faces Urijah Faber in a rematch for the bantamweight title and Jose Aldo takes on Ricardo Lamas for the featherweight title. We also have a great heavyweight matchup between Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem and a contender eliminator between Ali Bagautinov and John Lineker. This will be the first PPV card for 2014 and i'm expecting fireworks on the main card. I break down every single fight on the card giving you my picks, predictions and odds.
Renan Barao (31-1) Vs. Urijah "The California Kid" Faber (30-6)
In the main event of the evening, we have the bantamweight belt up for grabs as the rematch between Renan Barao and Urijah Faber should be a fun one. These two first met in July 2012 when they were fighting for the interim belt because Dominick Cruz was out due to injury. A year and a half later, they meet again with almost the same circumstances, Cruz is injured once again and this time these two fight for actual bantamweight title. Barao is the favourite at -290 and Faber the underdog at +245, Barao deserves to be the favourite as he has already beaten Faber via decision and as both fighters have looked so good of late, i'm not sure if the results will change. Faber has the skills to make this a competitive match but I don't know if he can actually finish Barao. I see this fight going the distance again and Renan Barao doing just enough to keep his belt.
Renan Barao -290
Jose Aldo (23-1) Vs. Ricardo Lamas (13-2)
The featherweight belt is up for grabs as Ricardo Lamas hopes to dethrone Jose Aldo, who is undefeated in the UFC thus far. Aldo hasn't lost since 2005, when he was still fighting in Brazil in the Jungle Fight organization. Lamas is also undefeated in the UFC going 4-0 beating the likes of Matt Grice, Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and most recently Erik Koch. This is a great matchup as both guys are super tough and they stakes are high as their is a belt on the line. Jose Aldo comes in as the cards biggest favourite at -700 and Lamas the biggest underdog on the card at +500, the line opened at -560 for Aldo and +430 for Lamas but the line keeps moving up and I expect it to go up even higher come fight night. I believe Aldo wins this fight but I won't rule out that Lamas doesn't have a chance, I think the longer the fight goes the better the chances are for Lamas, but if Aldo catches Lamas with one of his nifty strikes it could be lights out for Lamas. I wouldn't suggest laying 7 to 1 on Aldo but there are some good prop bets like Aldo wins inside the distance at -175 or Aldo wins by TKO/KO at - 150.
Jose Aldo - 700
Frank Mir (16-8) Vs. Alistair Overeem (36-13)
The only heavyweight fight on the card and were in for a great one, as Frank Mir takes on dutch kickboxer Alistair Overeem. Both these guys are in the top ten in the heavyweight division but both are probably past their prime, either way were in for fireworks as both these guys who are coming off losses hope to have a good showing so that they can stick around in the UFC. Overeem is the big favourite at -355 and Mir the big underdog at +295, when the line originally came out Overeem was just under a 3-to-1 favourite but the line has moved up a bit. I have a strong feeling that somebody is going to get knocked out and this fight has knockout of the night written all over it. I think Mir will stand and trade with Overeem but that might be a mistake as Mir is much better on the ground and if he can get it there he'll have a significant advantage. As for striking, I think Overeem has the advantage in that department and if he can catch Mir early, I expect the "Reem" to go in for the kill and finish this fight early.
Alistair Overeem - 355
Ali "The Puncher King" Bagautinov (12-2) Vs. John "Hands of Stone" Lineker (23-6)
An interesting flyweight matchup between two Top Ten competitors in Bagautinov and Lineker. The winner of this fight could possibly be next in line to face the flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson. John Lineker has looked impressive winning his last four but has trouble cutting down to 125, Bagautinov on the other hand has looked just as impressive winning in both of his UFC fights thus far. With both of these guys matching up so well, we could be in for another fight of the night candidate. Bagautinov comes in the favourite at -140 and Lineker the underdog at +120, the line originally opened as a pick'em but has moved up in the direction of Bagautinov. Both guys hit hard and look for knockouts, something that you don't see much of in the flyweight division. I expect this to be a slugfest and while most flyweight fights end in decision I don't expect this one to go that far. My lean would be towards Bagautinov but I think the better bet would be that this fight doesn't go past two and a half rounds.
Ali Bagautinov -140
or Under 2.5 Rounds at -125
Abel Trujillo (11-5) Vs. Jamie Varner (21-8-1)
Kicking off the main card on PPV is a lightweight bout Abel Trujillo and veteran Jamie Varner. Both of these fighters are gritty and durable and could make for fight of the night award. Varner is coming off a loss to Gleison Tibau last August and Trujillo is coming off a second round TKO over Roger Bowling. This will be Trujillo's first time fighting on the PPV portion of the card and I expect him to try and put on his best performance thus far. In Trujillo's way is ultra durable Jamie Varner who has been up and down since knocking off Edson Barboza in the first round back in May 2012, Varner had only fought once in all of 2013 after fighting four times in 2012. This will be Trujillo's fifth UFC fight as he has gone 2-1-1, with his last two UFC fights against Roger Bowling. Varner comes in as the slight favourite at -130 and Trujillo the underdog at +110, this fight is essentially a pick'em but I like Trujillo in this spot. I think Varner will be trying to control him on the ground while Trujillo will be keeping the fight standing and try to outstrike his opponent. My lean would be towards Trujillo via decision.
Abel Trujillo +110
John "The Bull" Makdessi (12-2) Vs. Alan Patrick (11-0)
The final preliminary matchup on Fox Sports 1 before the main card on PPV has John Makdessi facing off against Brazilian Alan Patrick. Makdessi, who fights out of Tristar Gym in Montreal, is on a 3 fight win streak and hope to keep it going against the undefeated Patrick. This should be an entertaining matchup as both fighters are pretty aggressive and that should make for a competitive match. Patrick is coming off of a first round TKO against Garett Whiteley and is looking to keep the streak going and move up the lightweight ladder. Makdessi comes in as the favourite at -155 and Patrick the underdog at +135, I agree that Makdessi should be the favourite as this bout will be his 8th one with the UFC. While Patrick did look pretty good in his UFC debut, i'm not sure his opponent was top notch, not taking anything away from Garett Whiteley, but I wasn't expecting much from him. I like Makdessi in this fight and would lean on him winning this fight via decision.
John Makdessi -155
Chris "Kamikaze" Cariaso (15-5) Vs. Danny Martinez (16-4)
An interesting flyweight matchup between veteran Chris Cariaso and promotional newcomer Danny Martinez should be a fun one. Cariaso is coming off a second round TKO stoppage of Iliarde Santos and will be welcoming in Danny Martinez, who makes his UFC debut. Both of these fighters are scrappy and I expect to see a back and forth battle between the two. Chris Cariaso comes in as the favourite at -155 and Danny Martinez the underdog at +135, I agree with this line as Cariaso has fought the bigger names and has fought in the WEC and Strikeforce. I see this contest going to decision with Cariaso winning it.
Chris Cariaso -155
Tom "Kong" Watson (16-6) Vs. Nick "The Jersey Devil" Catone (9-4)
Nick Catone will be fighting in his own backyard as he takes on British fighter Tom Watson in what should be a very competitive middleweight bout. Watson is coming off a decision loss to Thales Leites last August, while Catone is coming off 2 straight losses. Catone was was supposed to fight James Head in April of last year at Prudential Center but had trouble cutting weight and had to go to the hospital due to dehydration. The fight was subsequently pulled from the card and Catone did not compete at all in 2013. Ring rust might be an issue for Catone who hasn't seen action in over a year but he's back to middleweight ever since his problems cutting to 170. Both fighters will be looking to get back in the win column and both should be fighting with some sense of urgency. Tom Watson comes in as the favourite at -175 and Catone the underdog at +155, the line seems about right as Catone's layoff might be an issue. I expect Watson to try and keep this fight standing and for Catone to try to take this fight to the ground where he'll have an edge. If this fight goes to ground, it could be a snoozer, as Catone will just control Watson on the mat and try to win a decision that way. They have the line set at over/under 1.5 rounds and I think this might be the way to go, I like Tom Watson to win this fight but I'm not in love with this matchup, I'll lean on this fight going past a round and a half.
Over 1.5 Rounds at -240
Al Iaquinta (7-2-1) Vs. Kevin Lee (7-0)
Kicking off the prelim card on Fox Sports 1 is a lightweight bout between TUF 15 alum Al Iaquinta and promotional newcomer Kevin Lee. Iaquinta will be looking to win his third straight UFC bout since losing in the TUF 15 finale against Michael Chiesa. In Iaquinta's way is Kevin Lee, who brings his unblemished record to the UFC at 7-0 winning his last four fights via submission. Both of these fighters look like pretty good prospects in the lightweight division and i'm expecting a very competitve fight. Al Iaquinta comes in as the favourite at -245 and Kevin Lee the underdog at +205, i'm guessing the oddsmakers made the line this way because Iaquinta has more UFC experience, but realistically both guys are fairly green and I think this matchup might be a lot closer than the public thinks. I could see this fight going back and forth and while my lean would be towards Iaquinta, I won't rule out Lee, who is undefeated for a reason. I believe that this will be a very competitive fight with two durable guys so my lean will be that this fight goes to decision.
Over 2.5 Rounds at -170
Clint Hester (9-3) Vs. Andy Enz (7-0)
Capping off the prelims on UFC Fight Pass we have a middleweight matchup between TUF 17 alum Clint Hester and promotional newcomer Andy Enz. Hester has gone 2-0 in the UFC, most recently beating Dylan Andrews via TKO (Doctor Stoppage), as Andrews dislocated his shoulder throwing a punch in the match. Enz, who fights out of Alaska, will be trying to keep is undefeated record intact and will be trying to make a good early impression in his UFC debut. Clint Hester comes in as the favourite at -170 and Enz the underdog at +150, I agree with this line as Hester has gone through the TUF house and has 2 UFC fights under him, while Enz is somewhat green with only 7 fights, albeit all coming from the state of Alaska where Enz has only fought for the AFC (Alaska Fighting Championship). I really like Clint Hester in this spot, he's built like a tank and will probably be a bit stronger than his opponent, Hester will probably try to keep this fight standing where he'll have an edge in. I think Hester still has some work to do, to become a more well-rounded fighter, he needs to start implementing better kicks and I see him showing a bit of that in this fight. Enz's would be best served trying to take this fight to the ground and if he doesn't I see Hester winning the stand up battle. I would play Hester in a parlay or prop betting Hester wins by TKO/KO at +200, but that's just a lean.
Clint Hester - 170
Rashid Magomedov (15-1) Vs. Tony Martin (8-0)
For our second fight on UFC Fight Pass we have two lightweight fighters making their UFC debuts as Rashid Magomedov takes on Tony Martin. It seems like this undercard has a lot of fighters who are making their UFC debuts and this makes it very hard for me to tell you who is going to win. It seems like these Russian fighters are coming in droves to the UFC and Magomedov is just one of many. Magomedov is coming from M-1, where he was the welterweight champ and looks to transfer his success in the UFC. Both of these fighters are pretty good prospects for the lightweight division and Sautrday night will be their first test. Magomedov comes in as a big favourite at -260 and Martin the underdog at +180, the problem I have with this line is how they got to this number. Martin is undefeated at 8-0 while Magomedov has a great record, doubling the amount of fights than his opponent, but should that make him that big of a favourite? Magomedov will be trying to keep this fight standing while Martin will be trying to get it down to the mat where he'll hold an edge. I personally believe that this fight should be a pick'em and because of that I see some good value in Martin at +180, the problem is I haven't seen either fighter in the octagon before. I have a feeling that the two of them will be trying to prove that they belong in the UFC and I expect them to be going for it so my lean will be that this fight goes to a decision but like I said I see some value in Martin who comes in the taller fighter and might have an edge because of it.
Rashid Magomedov -260
Neil Magny (8-3) Vs. Gasan "Cobra" Umalatov (14-2-1)
Kicking off the prelims on UFC Fight Pass, we have a welterweight matchup between TUF 16 alum Neil Magny and Gasan Umalatov. Magny is coming off two straight losses in the UFC and is in dire need of a win if he wants to stay with the UFC. In Magny's way is the Russian newcomer Gasan Umalatov, who will be making his UFC debut and comes in at almost a 2 to 1 favourite. Oddsmakers have Umalatov at -185 and Magny as the underdog at +145, this line is interesting as the fighter with no UFC experience comes in as the favourite against a fighter who has 3 UFC bouts under him. I honestly thought Magny would have been cut by the UFC by now but maybe they see something in him that I don't, either way he comes in to the fight the underdog and will need to fight with a lot of urgency because a bad performance could mean a pink slip. There's not much to go on with Umalatov but I know he's dropping from middleweight to welterweight for this bout and i'm not sure if this will help him or hinder him. Since this is Umalatov's first UFC fight, it's hard to say how he'll look but I know both guys will be doing whatever they can to stay with the UFC so my lean would be that this fight goes to decision.
Over 2.5 Rounds at -205
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