Last night (Feb. 1, 2014), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., with UFC 169: "Barao vs. Faber 2" on pay-per-view (PPV). The night featured two title fights, as well as an important heavyweight tilt between Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir.
The pay-per-view (PPV) main event was a rematch between Renan Barao and Urijah Faber for the former's Bantamweight belt. Where as their first bout went the distance, last night's ending came in the first round via technical knockout. The co-main event featured Barao's teammate, Jose Aldo, defending his Featherweight strap against Ricardo Lamas.
Look, it wasn't a good night of fights for UFC. So, let's skip the intro talking up the event instead talk about last night ...
Well that was anti-climactic ...
By the time Faber and Barao took the center of the Octagon, there was absolutely nothing they could do that would have saved this event. That's probably the truest statement that will be made about UFC 169 in the next few days.
With 10 bouts going to decision and very few memorable moments, the crowd was getting restless. The energy seemed sucked out of the building and just made for a very weird experience. It didn't help that the fight ended in the worst way.
From my seat, I saw most of Barao's punches land to Faber's arm and "The California Kid" just kind of "riding out" the storm. At that moment, it didn't seem like Faber was close to getting finished despite getting dropped several times before the questionable stoppage (watch highlights here).
UFC needed a big fight to cap off the awful night. Instead, it got another controversial ending.
Well, at least Jose Aldo used to finish opponents ...
Am I the only person who has been severely underwhelmed by Aldo's recent string of victories inside the Octagon? Here's a fighter with all the physical gifts in the world with skills that complement his athleticism and I just get the feeling that he's bored.
Maybe bored isn't the right word? Maybe it's just that he's just so far ahead of his peers that unless he finishes a fight with a ridiculous knockout, I'm just not going to be impressed?
There is one thing that I do know. I know that once he took the first three rounds, he started to coast in the championship rounds (watch highlights here). Yes, Lamas didn't have anything for him. And yes, Lamas failed to actually utilize of the one aspect of the fight that he possibly would have the advantage.
That doesn't matter. Aldo just didn't impress me last night. Hopefully, he returns to form when he meets Anthony Pettis later this year because if this guy shows up, he's going to take a beating.
Goodbye Frank Mir?
I don't know if Mir is going to retire. The only people who know if he's going to make that decision are Mir and his wife. But, I know that at this point in his career, he's not looking too great against whoever UFC matches him up against.
There was a time when an argument could be made that Mir was the top heavyweight fighter in the world. Hell, he's arguably the best "home grown" talent that Zuffa has ever produced. But, that's the past. Right now, he's a heavyweight who can't compete against other heavyweights.
For the first time in his career, he's riding a losing streak. And after landing just five (!!!) strikes the entire fight (watch highlights here), it's probably the right time for him to start considering hanging the gloves up. He's just unable to compete against the best heavyweights in UFC.
He'll probably get another chance because every time Mir loses, he always has a reason or an excuse for the loss. Either the referee did something wrong or he missed an opportunity or the sun was in his eyes. Either way, I'm pretty sure this was the worst performance of his career.
Better hope there isn't an encore.
Worst UFC event? Worst UFC event.
I'm not one for hyperbole or overstatement so I don't mean "worst UFC event of all time." But, in recent years? Yeah, you can make a real argument that the whole event was disappointing. From the opening bell, it was hard to concentrate on the "action" inside the cage.
This wasn't because UFC match makers Joe Silva and Sean Shelby did a poor job at putting the fight card together. It's honestly just a case of fighters disappointing when given the chance to shine.
There were two bouts that didn't live up to the expectations that I set in my mind. The first was John Makdessi vs. Alan Patrick. That was set as the "main event" of the Fox Sports 1 "Prelims" under card because there was supposed to be fireworks. Those two were supposed to make the case for the casual PPV buyer.
Instead, they stunk up the joint.
The other was John Lineker vs. Ali Bagautinov. Both guys are heavy handed -- and with Lineker's propensity of scoring an epic knockout -- the "easy money" bet would be for the fight to end in violent fashion. Instead, it was kind of a stinker.
- Overeem was pretty disappointing. Yes, he completely dominated Mir. That goes without question. He dominated him from pillar to post and as never in any sort of danger. That's great. That's not the reason I tune in to watch "The Reem." I want to see knockouts. It's great that he paced himself, but I don't have to like it.
- Thank you Abel Trujillo and Jamie Varner. Without you, this card would have been completely unwatchable. That was an epic knockout. And while Trujillo won't be a champ, he's definitely a guy who will have a permanent home on PPV broadcasts (watch highlights here).
- The hell happened to Lineker? Part of me thinks his poor performance was because he cut too much weight and then just couldn't compete with Bagautinov, but that's not true. He couldn't compete because he's one-dimensional. He's the hammer when he can knockout opponents. When he can't? You get UFC 169.
- I honestly can't recall what happened during the "Fight Pass" and Fox Sports 1 "Prelims" (read full recap here). Not because I'm actively putting those fights in the back of my mind. Nope. I can't remember what happened because nothing notable happened. Just boring fights.
- 10 decisions! That's a thing!
- I was kind of bummed out we didn't get another round of "Joe Rogan and Dana White yell super loud about fights." But, I understand. There's no way to be hyped after watching those terrible "Prelims."
- Herb Dean is going to get a lot of flack in the upcoming days for his stoppage in the main event between Faber and Barao. He deserves all of it. He screwed up. He's a great referee, but he's not perfect. Last night's premature stoppage showed that even the best can have a bad night.