Today, on the eve of Super Bowl XLVIII, the UFC will have it’s 11th annual Super Bowl UFC card. The tradition began with UFC 46: Supernatural, in which Vitor Belfort controversially won the UFC Light Heavyweight championship from Randy Couture due to a cut on Couture’s eyelid. Since then, the UFC has consistently put out cards on the eve of the Super Bowl, aiming for each card to be stacked and entertaining. The does not always wind up being the case, but the cards usually wind up being very entertaining, and this year’s edition will likely yield a lot of enjoyable fights as well. In this article, you will get the official odds for each fight as of January 29th, background information on each fight, information on where the fight can be seen, as well as my prediction for each fight. All odds are courtesy of fightbetnetwork.com
UFC 169 Online Prelims (Fight Pass, ufc.tv/page/fightpass, 6:30/5:30c)
Neil Magny(8-3) (+165) vs. Gasan Umalatov(14-2) (-140)
To open up the card, we have an intriguing battle which could be amongst the most competitive of the night. Magny, one of only 2 fighters from the dreaded 16th season of The Ultimate Fighter to make it into the UFC aside from the finalists, has been relatively lackluster in the promotion, with a 1-2 record inside the octagon. In order to keep his job, the grappler will need to outdo a Russian better at his than anything. While I admit I had never heard of Umalatov before this matchup was announced, despite being a massive MMA fan for over a decade, I felt like I’d seen enough tape of him, and of Magny, to give the nod to the Russian. However, Magny’s back is against the wall, and I have a hunch he’ll manage to pull through. Magny by decision.
Tony Martin (8-0) (+220) vs. Rashid Magomedov (15-1) (-150)
In any other promotion, this fight could easily be the co-main, if not the main event. In the UFC, this matchup airs in a place few people will wind up watching. Despite being undefeated and having submitted 6 of his opponents, Martin is still the underdog in this fight, and for good reason. Unlike Umalatov, Magomedov is a fighter who has some serious hype surrounding him. I’m talking Shlemenko/Khabib/Khabilov hype. Since this Russian has as many ko/tko victories as decision wins, experts are picking him to win in one of those two ways. I, for one, will go with the latter. Magomedov by decision.
Clint Hester (9-3) (-170) vs. Andy Enz (7-0) (+160)
At first look, this fight is a mismatch in the mind of a casual UFC fan. Hester has technically won bot of his UFC fights, and Enz has never even stepped into the octagon. However, I’m here to tell you that is not necessarily the case. I’m not only saying this because Enz did fight in an octagon before, since he served as Uriah Hall’s punching bag on the TUF 17 premiere. I’m also trying to say that Enz has a legitimate shot at winning this fight. Five of his 7 victories have come via submission, and he is a high level grappler, which is something the boxer, Hester, has been called out for. While I do believe Enz can take this, I also believe Hester deserves better than a non-televised prelim fight, and I think he’ll prove it to the UFC brass tonight. Hester by tko Round 2.
Televised Prelims (Fox Sports 1-8/7c)
Al Iaquinta (7-2) (-150) vs. Kevin Lee (7-0) (+210)
Kicking off the televised portion of the card is an interesting lightweight matchup between TUF 15 finalist Iaquinta and undefeated submission specialist Kevin Lee. The reason I called Lee a submission specialist is because, well, he’s won his last four fights with a submission, each in a different manner. I don’t think he’ll be able to do the same to the Serra-Longo member Iaquinta though. Iaquinta by decision.
Nick Catone (9-4) (+160) vs. Tom Watson (16-6) (-125)
Next up is a middleweight bout between two fighters in deep water. Watson has lost 2 of his last 3, but Catone has lost 2 straight, and a loss to Watson could result in a pink slip for him. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I think will happen. Watson by tko round 2.
Chris Cariaso (15-5) (-155) vs. Danny Martinez (16-4) (+150)
The third televised fight is a flyweight matchup between a guy who’s been with the UFC for 3 years(Cariaso), against a debuting UFC fighter on short notice in Martinez. This fight was originally between Cariaso and the electrifying Kyoji Horiguchi. Had Horiguchi not pulled out due to injury, I would’ve picked Cariaso to lose. However, Martinez is not Horiguchi, and I think Cariaso will win his 2nd straight fight after losing back to back bouts. Cariaso by split decision.
John Makdessi (12-2) (-120) vs. Alan Patrick (11-0) (+140)
The headline prelim bout is between two lightweights who definitely deserve the spotlight. Both guys are electric, with the undefeated Patrick debuting in the UFC in spectacular fashion by finishing Garrett Whiteley back at UFC Fight Night 29. However, he’s going to be dealing with a completely different kind of beast in John “The Bull” Makdessi, who has knocked out eight of his opponents. I think Patrick will survive, but he’ll fail to advance this time around. Makdessi by decision.
UFC 169 Main Card (Pay per View, 10/9c)
Jamie Varner (21-8-1-2) (-120) vs. Abel Trujillo (11-5) (+120)
The opening fight of the main card is a very interesting one. On one side, there is Jamie Varner; a fighter who once wreaked havoc in the WEC before sputtering with an 0-3-1 record to finish his WEC career. Due to that funk, he was left out when the UFC decided to absorb the WEC a few years ago. However, after winning 3 of his next 4, the UFC decided to let him in. The results have been mixed, as he has alternated wins and losses. Since he lost his last bout, and is dealing with an opponent who has lethal knockout power, most people tend to believe he will use his wrestling to smother a solid wrestler in Trujillo. I, however, don’t believe that will be the case. Something tells me that Varner may actually try to stand with Trujillo, & even if he tries to wrestle Abel, I think Varner will get finished. Trujillo by ko round 1.
#5 John Lineker (23-6) (+130) vs. #7 Ali Bagautinov (12-2) (-140)
This fight may decide who the next flyweight title challenge may be, as the Brazilian Lineker battles the Russian Bagautinov. Lineker possesses something most flyweight fighters do not: elite knockout power. The man has finished his last 3 opponents in brutal fashion, and 11 overall. He has never faced anyone as good as Bagautinov, however. Lineker’s ground game is suspect, and that’s where the Russian shines. His gas tank is also suspect, and that favors Ali as well. I think at the end of the day, he will cause Lineker to tire out, before getting the late finish. Bagautinov by tko, late round 3.
#10 Frank Mir (16-8) (+340) vs. #9 Alistair Overeem (36-13) (-380)
This fight sends off a somber tone more than anything else. Both guys have been fighting for a long time, and look like they are at the twilight of their careers. Both are on losing streaks(Mir’s lost three straight, Overeem 2), and a loss could result in a legend being cut from the UFC. Mir hasn’t been competitive in any of his last three, while Overeem has dominate the majority of his last two, only to flounder and get finished at the end. That will not be the case with the legendary striker this time around, in my opinion. While Frank Mir is one of the best submission specialists in heavyweight history, seven of his eight losses have come via knockout, and I think this one might just be the bitterest one for everyone to swallow. Overeem by brutal ko, round 1.
Featherweight Championship: (C) Jose Aldo (23-1) (-714) vs. #2 Ricardo Lamas (13-2) (+600)
In the co-main event of UFC 169, longtime featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo looks to defend the UFC belt only he has ever worn against his newest and potentially final contender, Ricardo Lamas. The reason why I say this is that Aldo has defeated every other contender his division has had to offer, and if he defeats Lamas, the Brazilian may finally heed the call so many MMA fans have been pleading for: a move up to lightweight. The man has won 16 straight, with his only loss coming nearly 9 years ago. However, he hasn’t looked the same since transitioning over to the UFC from the WEC, where he was a monster. His gas tank has become suspect, and he has only finished 2 fights inside the octagon. His opponent, Lamas, has finished 3 of his 4 opponents inside the octagon, and has earned his shot by being patience instead of being a loudmouth. I can’t believe so many “experts” think Aldo will finish him with ease. I do think he’ll get the win with a tko, but not as early as everybody else wants to believe. Aldo by tko round 4.
Bantamweight Championship: (C) Renan Barao (31-1) ( -303) vs. Urijah Faber (+291)
The main event of UFC 169 is a doozie. The original main event was supposed to be former champion Dominick Cruz vs interim champ Renan Barao in a title unification bout. However, despite looking like he had finally recovered from ACL issues that had kept him out for 2 years, Cruz had to pull out on January 6 due to a groin tear, and subsequently he finally vacated his belt. As a result, on just three weeks notice, Urijah Faber accepted the role of Barao’s first opponent as the undisputed bantamweight champion, a year and a half after losing the interim championship fight to him via unanimous decision. Since that fight, both fighters look as great as ever, and this fight could be a great one. As good as Faber is, I’m taking the guy with the 31 fight winning streak. Barao by unanimous decision.