The UFC heads into their big Super Bowl weekend card with UFC 169, headlined by the Bantamweight title fight between Champion Renan Barao and perennial challenger Urijah Faber and the Featherweight title showdown between Jose Aldo and Ricardo Lamas. The odds at the books have the two champions installed as favorites, as Barao is at (-280) with Faber returning (+230) and Aldo is a massive favorite at (-600) over the unheralded Lamas, who returns (+450). Let’s take a look at the matchups a week out.
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The match between Barao is a rematch that Barao won handily the first time, and Faber got the shot when long time Champion Dominick Cruz was re-injured and pulled out. This gave Barao, then the interim titleholder, the hold of the UFC’s official belt. For his first challenge, Faber was their, owner of several impressive wins and a refined game that he has shown in his last few outings.
Faber is a professional who has remained focused on earning a UFC Championship. He has improved in his quest, and really is the only man in the division worthy of a title shot right now. But Barao has also been on top of his game and improving, so what you are betting on in this fight is whether Faber has closed the gap on Barao from their last outing. Perhaps the motivation of having lost in his previous five attempts to win gold will help Faber overcome the odds, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Lamas might be a better bet, just for the fun of the action. Lamas is facing Aldo who has morphed into probably the UFC’s best pound for pound fighter. Lamas has a nifty 4 fight winning streak, but he has failed to capture the imagination of the public and has been passed over for the title fight in the past by UFC President Dana White. All this could prove motivational to Lamas, who is facing a young champion who has started to taste the spoils of being champion. Maybe Aldo comes in flat and Lamas can shake up the pound for pound lists world wide.