Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber

Mike Drahota: This is the bantamweight title fight that should have been booked originally; with Faber on a bulldozing four-fight win streak and Barao, well, just being Barao with his insane 32-fight unbeaten streak. Both of these fighters can take a ton of punishment, and I think we’re going to see significantly more dished out here. It’s just so hard to imagine a scenario where Barao gets finished, but Faber’s submissions have looked otherworldly as of late. With two combatants fighting at this high of a level right now, this really could come down to who lands the luckiest punch. I expect this to be a war, and a closely contested one at that. I wish both fighters could win, but I’m going with Barao via unanimous decision.

Rory Kernaghan: Urijah Faber impressed a lot of people in 2013, as did Renan Barao. The two will meet once again at UFC 169 to decide who is the best Bantamweight alive; in my opinion it will be ‘The California Kid’. Although Barao holds a victory over Faber, the Kid has evolved since and I honestly can’t see anyone stopping him. Faber by decision, WAR Cali Kid!

Brian Cox: I expect an all-out war here. The champion Barao is going to be looking to make his belt ‘official’ in Newark. This is the first fight that Barao has had where he’s walking into the ring as the actual champion; no interim before his title. As such, he’s going to be highly motivated. On the other hand, Faber will be looking to avenge his 2012 loss to Barao and earn his fifth consecutive win in a row. Both combatants can do it all and neither has a hole in their game. They are, quite simply, two great fighters. That said, I think Faber has improved greatly over his last four fights and now stands as a serious threat to Barao. I think Faber will come out hard and fast and keep it that way, pushing the pace to a level that makes Barao uncomfortable and gives him the opening he’s looking for. Therefore, for reasons of determination and pace, I’m picking Faber to win this fight; winner by way of a round three submission, Urijah Faber. 

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Buster Evans: The main event could quite possibly be the biggest bantamweight fight of all time. Yes, the two have fought before but the fight was not as significant then as it is now. Since losing to Barão at UFC 149, Faber has been on a tear. “The California Kid” has gone 4-0 since the loss to Barão, with three finishes over top contenders. I really think Faber has improved a lot since their last fight and I think it’s going to show come fight night. But I just don’t think he has improved enough to change the outcome of the fight. Barão via unanimous decision. 

Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas:

Mike Drahota: Jose Aldo has nearly cleaned out the top level of the UFC featherweight division, and if he gets by Lamas at UFC 169, he’ll own wins over the top five 145-pound contenders. If there’s ever been a time to move up to lightweight, it’s now. But he has to get by Lamas first, and truth be told, I don’t see that being much of a problem for “Junior.” Lamas’ best attribute is his aggressive style of wrestling pressure, and Aldo has dealt with that before. It’s going to take something truly special to dethrone Aldo here, and after over a year out of the cage, I don’t Lamas has that up his sleeve. I’m going Aldo via second round TKO.

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Rory Kernaghan: What can you say about Jose Aldo that hasn’t already been said? He is athletic, dangerous and has that killer instinct you need as a pro fighter. His opponent, Ricardo Lamas, has demonstrated all of the above during his rise to the title shot. This could be quite a close fight if Aldo is able to find his rhythm and his cardio is good. Lamas is very dangerous so Aldo will need to stay on his toes, the belt stays in Brazil. Aldo by decision.

Brian Cox: This is going to be another well-contested fight. Aldo is a beast who can do it all, and with stunning power. If he has a knock on him it’s that his gas tank might be questionable over a five round fight. Other than that, Aldo seems impervious to anything that might challenge him. Lamas is 4 – 0 in the UFC, and has a very well rounded game to provide a solid challenge to the champ. However, the question for Lamas is where to take the fight? Aldo is a nightmare to both stand and grapple with. As such, Lamas is probably going to spend his night trying to find an answer to that as opposed to imposing his own gameplan. For reasons of toughness, experience, and complete skillsets, I’m going to have to go with Aldo; winner by TKO in round two, Jose Aldo.

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Buster Evans: The first title fight on the card is being overlooked by fans in my opinion. Jose Aldo is ranked 2nd in the P4P rankings and Ricardo Lamas is a legitimate threat to his title. I think Lamas needs to do damage early if he wants to have a chance to win, but that’s going to be tough against Aldo. If Lamas can take the first round and get to Aldo early, he could be the very man to dethrone the Brazilian. But, I just can’t see that happening. Expect Aldo to attack Lamas with leg kicks early, and then pick him apart with his excellent striking. Aldo via TKO Round 3. 

Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin for USA TODAY Sports

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