The real winners and losers from UFC 169: Barao vs. Faber
If you’re a fan of individual brilliance, UFC 169 wasn’t a bad card for you. Renan Barao and Jose Aldo both looked fantastic, reminding everyone why they’re two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Other than those two and Abel Trujillo’s ridiculous comeback KO of Jamie Varner, though, there wasn’t a whole lot memorable about the event Saturday night at Prudential Center in Newark. But there were some interesting takeaways.
Here are the real winners and losers:
UFC president Dana White was asked repeatedly about Brock Lesnar and CM Punk last week leading up to the fights. Then on Saturday night, Alistair Overeem called out Lesnar – the same guy he destroyed in the first round two years go who hasn’t fought since. You can tell White was frustrated in the post-fight press conference when he was asked about Brock. Two of the top MMA fighters in the world were competing at UFC 169 and WWE was still in the forefront of some people’s minds.
Front-row seats for a guy who was just there to watch his teammate? “Rumble” must have it like that.
Obviously, the UFC and the former World Series Of Fighting light heavyweight have a deal in the works. He told FOX Sports “we’re still working it out,” but judging by the treatment Saturday – including what we think was a guided tour of the arena by official Reed Harris – Johnson is likely to be back in the Octagon at some point. Either that or Harris wants to restart the WEC, not with lighter weight fighters, but fighters who have trouble making weight.
Pettis didn’t even have to show up in Newark (lucky him) and he was handed the biggest money fight of his career. When he comes back from PCL surgery, Pettis will likely defend his UFC lightweight title against Jose Aldo. If you don’t think that’s one of the most exciting fights the UFC can put on right now, you’re just not paying attention.
Aldo said he wants the bout. And apparently Pettis did, too, which we didn’t know until he phoned Dave Sholler, UFC director of public relations, during the postfight press conference. He would have called Dana White, but the boss’s flip phone didn’t have service at Prudential Center. No, seriously. True story.
Prudential Center security
In no way is the double stabbing at UFC 169 an indictment of the UFC itself and thinking otherwise is just silly. This kind of senseless violence happens at all sporting events – from European soccer to good ol’ American-as-apple-pie baseball. But security at Prudential Center has to be a little better with the simple things, like letting deadly weapons into their arena. It’s fortunate that the two people stabbed are not seriously injured.
Mistakes happen and it’s hard to prevent idiots from doing disgusting things. However, it’s still a black eye for the arena and the city, which is already not seen in the greatest light.
There’s nothing innately wrong with decisions. Some of them can be awesome. Two of the best fights of last year – Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson and Diego Sanchez vs. Gilbert Melendez – were decisions. But UFC 169 set an ugly record of 10 bouts going the distance on Saturuday and believe us: there was no Jones-Gustafsson or Melendez-Sanchez among them. Al Iaquinta vs. Kevin Lee wasn’t bad and Rashid Magomedov did some ridiculous things on the prelims. Other than that, though, the event was a tough watch.
Even Jose Aldo and Alistair Overeem, while dominant, were probably too patient and unwilling to go for a finish. Overeem had ample opportunity to knock out an exhausted, clearly hurt Frank Mir. Good thing for Abel Trujillo and Jamie Varner, otherwise UFC 169 would have been a complete and utter dud.
One of the best pound-for-pound fighters got asked about two questions in the postfight press conference. It’s unfortunate when a guy can look as good as Barao did and not get as much attention as the guy he beat the tar out of. In this case, Urijah Faber got the lion’s share of questions, because many felt referee Herb Dean stopped the fight too quickly.
You can’t fault the media in this case, especially since Barao doesn’t really have a logical next fight. If he isn’t moving up to featherweight, we’re not sure what he’s going to do. And communicating with him can be difficult through an interpreter. Barao is a funny, affable guy – and incredibly unassuming – when you get him in a one-on-one setting, but things get lost in translation when there’s a room full of people. That’s one of the reasons it has been hard for some Brazilian fighters to get over (borrowing a pro wrestling term) in the states.
Barao had a chance to set himself apart from everyone else and become a draw Saturday night. It didn’t really happen, through no fault of his own. Even when Dana White interrupted the press questions to tout the bantamweight champion, it seemed to fall on deaf ears. Unfortunately in MMA, just being a violent destroyer doesn’t make you super popular.