Every now and then we get a piece of news from the UFC that’s simply joyous to hear and today is one of those days.
This evening, the promotion has announced that UFC 169, which will take place at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on February 1rst of next year, and will feature not one, but two title bouts.
The first fight up will be the co-main bout, which will see not only the long awaited return of 135 pound champion Dominick Cruz, but also his much anticipated clash with the division’s current bad boy and interim champion, Renan Barao.
This is a fight that many have wondered about since Barao ran roughshod over Uriah Faber in July of last year, and seized the interim title. Past his title victory, Barao has subsequently defended his belt twice and in doing so, has dispatched both of his opponents (Michael McDonald & Eddie Wineland) by way of stoppages (submission and TKO, respectively) and in, what were, dominant performances.
In coming back, Cruz will have his hands full with Barao and the question will be, can his rehabbed knee and 28 month layoff deal with the Renan’s impressive arsenal of tools? On February first we’ll get to find out, but as fans know, Dominick didn’t become champion by accident and he has his own daunting set of tools, as well.
However and regardless of skill sets or the fights outcome, the match is a great one and apt to be an amazing bout.
Another interesting note about this match is the poetic justice of it.
It puts Cruz back in the ring as champion and defending his belt for the third consecutive time and as against Renan Barao, who will be defending his interim belt for the third consecutive time. Further, it’s a match that’s quite literally sliding in under the door. For had Dominick not been able to make it back by early next year, he would most likely have been stripped of his belt and this fight, for whatever reason, may never have happened. Truly, fans have lucked out in the manner with which this situation will resolve itself.
The other big fight on the card and its main event, witnesses Jose Aldo defending his featherweight belt for the sixth consecutive time, as against number three ranked fighter, Ricardo Lamas.
Lamas is on a four fight winning streak, has yet to lose in the UFC’s Octagon and is sporting a 75% finishing rate since entering the promotion. Opposite of that stands Jose Aldo, his perfect (5 & 0) UFC record and its 40% finishing rate; 70% FR, career.
On paper this is a great fight.
Lamas should prove a solid challenge to Aldo and a good test, in what is apt to be a stand-up war. Aldo has more experience than Lamas by nine fights and hasn’t lost since 2005, with that being the only blemish on his record. He is good everywhere and has proven himself to be able to go a full hard five rounds.
Conversely, Lamas has only two blemishes on his record, with the last being a KO in December of 2010. He too is good everywhere, but has only fought in one five round fight (2008) in his career and as such, Aldo might have an experience advantage come the championship rounds; should the fight make it past the third.
Regarding the match, this is one that fits the old cliché of “someone’s 0’s gotta go”. As both Aldo and Lamas have yet to lose in the UFC, one of them will be exiting the ring that night with their first loss in the promotion.
All considered, this is shaping up to be a great card and with Frank Mir & Alistair Overeem already slated for it, in a battle for who gets to keep their UFC locker, the whole evening is shaping up to be another great UFC pay-per-view. Happily, fans have UFC 167 & 168 to help get them through the winter, as they await the February card.