Just a few days ago, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced two title fights for its upcoming UFC 169 event, which will take place at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Feb. 2, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey.
Featherweight champion Jose Aldo was expected to defend his title against Ricardo Lamas in the main event, while Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz returns after an extended layoff to take on interim 135-pound kingpin Renan Barao.
That's still the pay-per-view (PPV) plan, but the world's top mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion today tinkered with its tried and true championship line up hierarchy, giving the "Champion vs. Interim Champion" showdown top billing on the marquee SuperBowl weekend, according to an announcement earlier today.
Traditionally, the heavier weight class is awarded the top slot when two titles are at stake on the same fight card,however, UFC decided to switch it up under the unique circumstances, giving the 135-pound title scrap top billing, while the 145-pound title fight will serve as co-main event.
The Bantamweight title unification fight will mark Cruz's first fight in more than two years after undergoing not one, but two ACL surgeries. In his extended absence, Barao claimed the interim title with an impressive win over Urijah Faber at UFC 149 in 2013 and defended the belt twice against Michael McDonald and most recently Eddie Wineland at UFC 165.
Meanwhile, not much has changed 10 pounds north in the Featherweight landscape, with Aldo ruling the division with an iron fist (and knees and kicks), defending the title five consecutive times since making his Octagon debut against Mark Hominick at UFC 129 two years ago.
Lamas looks to change all of that as he finally gets his long-desired shot at the gold after being passed over time and again.
UFC 169 takes place just a stone's throw away from the site of SuperBowl 2014, which will go down at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., the following day.
But, before that can happen, Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas will look to outshine Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao in the "Garden State" to illustrate that bigger is better. And that's just fine.