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The Juggernaut MMA News Report 1.30.14: Urijah Faber's Last Stand
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 01.30.2014

UFC 169 Preview

Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber

2013 was the first year since Urijah Faber's rookie year, a decade earlier, in professional mixed martial arts that he did not compete in a championship fight. Perhaps he'll begin a new amazing run as he is back for another crack at the UFC bantamweight championship this weekend in Newark. While that seems impossible, based on recent history and logic, his odds of even winning this one fight appear too long to comprehend.

The California Kid is in no way past his prime nor is he on the down-side of his great career. He remains one of the best bantamweights in the world and the fact remains that he is unbeatable when fighting anyone besides champions (since 2008). The most danger he's seen was last summer's fight with Yuri Alcantara and he bounced back to dominate the final two rounds for the victory. He added three other wins to his record in 2013, all by submission when he defeated Michael McDonald, Scott Jorgensen and Ivan Menjivar.

The reigning undisputed 135-pound champ is now Renan Barao following Dominick Cruz's latest injury setback. Just as he was back in Brazil, the Nova Uniao fighter has been outstanding since moving shop to North America and beyond. He debuted in WEC over four years ago and has reeled off dominant win after dominant win ever since. Chris Cariaso, Cole Escovedo, Brad Pickett, Scott Jorgesnen, Faber, McDonald and Eddie Wineland have each fallen at his hands.

Cutting to the chase, how does Faber pull off the upset and return to championship form after all these years? He will have to take advantage of a lull in the champ's defense or other weakness because otherwise, I'm not sure he can hurt Barao. This means keeping the fight as close as possible, distance wise, and not going punch, counterpunch all night. Attempt to prevent Renan from getting his offense off, throw in timely takedowns (easier said than done, no doubt) and Faber could piece together enough rounds to earn himself the gold after 25-minutes.

But, Renan Barao is undefeated going back nearly nine years, 31 wins in his last 32 fights (the one holdout was a no contest) and has not shown much in the way of holes in his game recently. If anyone can become the man to stop him in the near future, it has to be Faber.

Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas

For all the talk and hype about how Renan Barao is a straight beast when it comes to fighting, Jose Aldo may be the most dominant fighter in the sport at the moment. Clearly, he's the one major champion who has not come remotely close to losing at all. So, going back to his time atop WEC, he's possessed a stranglehold over the featherweight division for nearly five years.

While Ricardo Lamas hopes and has busted his ass to be the man to stop the Brazilian's title reign, it seems more interest is on Aldo's impending move to lightweight than this bout.

The reason for that is obvious - he has run through the 145-pound division already. From Faber in 2010 on down the line, Manny Gamburyan, Mark Hominick, Kenny Florian, Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar and The Korean Zombie.

Now, there's Lamas. Recently promoted to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, he has definitely earned this opportunity. Since dropping to this weight in his UFC debut, he has reeled off big wins over Matt Grice, Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch.

All of that got Lamas to the show, but what now? Nobody can take Aldo down. Nobody can beat him standing. Hence, nobody at 145-pounds can stop arguably the best fighter on the planet.

As has been the case for all of his fights at 145 in recent years, perhaps the best shot to take him out rests on his ability to safely cut down to that weight. Yet, even an exhausted version of Aldo wiped the mat with Hominick a few years back, so maybe he truly is simply unbeatable.

Alistair Overeem vs. Frank Mir

Simply unbeatable describes neither Alistair Overeem or Frank Mir.

But, this remains a hell of a fight between two heavyweights in need of a job-saving effort.

Frank Mir, the legendary UFC heavyweight has been with the promotion since his third pro fight in 2001. Fast forward to this weekend and he will step inside the octagon with an active three-fight losing streak. Ironically, he has received approval to be using testosterone replacement therapy for this fight (ironic based on his opponent) but that doesn't really help his questionable chin.

Speaking of questionable chins, Alistair Overeem has been knocked out in his past two fights and he has not won a fight since he stopped Brock Lesnar over two years ago.

It seems like if there was a way where two men could knock each other out and both lose, this would be it.

Mir would be silly to try and box with Overeem, but can he take him down and utilize his famous submission game? For either man, when the fists start flying, will their chins hold up long enough to make it slugfest?


- Former UFC heavyweight Pat Barry (he was recently released) has effectively retired from MMA, citing his dislike of grappling. It's safe to expect to find him return to kickboxing so he shouldn't have to worry about wrestling for longer. His MMA career ends with a record of 8-7, though thanks to his penchant for brawls (and the fact he's one of the genuinely nicest personalities around), his five-year run in the sport offers its fair share of memories (the Cheick Kongo fight, Cro Cop, the knockouts).

- It's January so that means the annual and Groundhog Day-like story of professional MMA legislation in New York is back. Fighters and officials from the UFC trekked to Albany earlier this week to begin their lobbying process for the new legislative session (which began about two weeks ago). As has been the case for the past several years, nothing will change on this topic until the NY Assembly Democrats believe they can pass a legalization bill by themselves without support from Republicans. We won't know whether they have the numbers until May, or more likely, June. Welcome back to the wonderfully disgusting world of Albany politics.

Meanwhile, New Jersey is hosting their sixth UFC show in the last four years this weekend.

- 2012 Miss U.S. Whitney Miller told MMAJunkie.com she is considering an attempt at competing in MMA. The 24-year-old pageant queen is about six months into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training down in Austin, Texas.

- Official is a main event fight between TUF: Nations coaches Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke for the UFC show on April 16 in Quebec with the broadcast airing on Fox Sports 1.

- The complete Bellator season 10 premiere is official. Airing on Spike TV on Friday, February 28, Bellator 110 will feature: light heavyweight semifinals-King Mo Lawal vs. Mikhail Zayats and Quinton Jackson vs. Christian M'Pumbu. Plus, featherweight quarterfinals- Diego Nunes vs. Matt Bessette, Mike Richman vs. Desmond Green and Scott Cleve vs. Daniel Weichel.

- The UFC confirmed their Canadian schedule for this year with these shows:

TUF: Nationals Finale - April 16 in Quebec
UFC 174 - June 14 in Vancouver
UFC 178 - September 27 in Toronto
UFC Fight Night - October 4 in Nova Scotia
UFC 181 - December 6 in Montreal




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