10 Thoughts on UFC 169 – Decisions Aplenty, Nova Uniao’s Elite and More!

Check out 10 Thoughts on UFC 169:

1. The main event taught us a lot. First off, a thumbs up isn’t going to be enough to prevent a stoppage when a world class champion is swarming with hammer punches (albeit blocked) after he clearly has his opponent dazed and in trouble from a number of accurate and powerful strikes. Doesn’t make the stoppage justified, but that’s what went down in the fight. You can bet fighters will take that into account should they find themselves in a similar situation.

Second, Renan Barao is that damn good. Yes, Faber is as improved as the UFC hype train wants you to believe. He proved it by doing what he did in 2013. The guy has never been better. And he lost worse than he has in several years. It showed us how much better Renan Barao really was. When was the last time someone did that to Faber? Probably Jose Aldo, and even he couldn’t earn the stoppage. If Barao wasn’t in top P4P talks before, he is now.

And third, Faber deserves a ton of credit for taking the fight on short notice and being 100% classy about the very controversial stoppage. We haven’t heard everything yet, and we’ve seen some harsh words from fighters after some fights with semi-questionable stoppages, but Faber took the high road, praising Herb Dean. And taking the fight on ultra short notice? Come on, a month. He hasn’t even recovered from his camp and fight against McDonald before he starts training for Barao. And he injured his knee and hamstring a week into the camp. When you’re as good as Faber, you still take the chance, but Barao is good as advertised and possibly better. You’d have to wonder what we would have seen if Faber had a full camp to recover and prepare.

2. Jose Aldo is beatable. That sounds ridiculous after such a dominant performance, and it also sounds pretty straightforward.  But he is beatable.  Not the kind of beatable when you are in game planning sessions or when watching film and talking during media sessions and interviews. Beatable as in, you are standing in the Octagon across from him and it’s halfway past Round 3 beatable. Aldo needs to be careful. Yes, this fight was more of the same old same old for him. Kind of a routine, pick the guy apart fight that looked a lot like his match against Mark Hominick. Aldo’s stand up defense is something to marvel, the stat was something like 75% of strikes avoided. That’s insane. Lamas couldn’t really touch him, let alone hurt him, while Aldo was landing leg kicks at will. But, the worry in this fight was that fifth round, much like where Hominick had Aldo on his back, Lamas was able to do the same. Someone is going to come along that will be able to figure out the trick, and Aldo could very well find himself in serious trouble. Aldo’s cardio looked much better, and his stand up defense is other worldly, but the later rounds are always a question mark with him.

3. Lamas is championship material. Will he ever actually win a title in his career? Who knows, but he has what it takes to do it. He didn’t look at all intimidated by Aldo and took the worst leg kicks he had to offer and kept fighting his fight. He didn’t have that elite striking edge that separates guys like Jose Aldo and Anthony Pettis, but he’s not far from it. Just a bit more polishing and improving and he’s going to be elite. Look at how some of Aldo’s recent opponents came out after fights, Jung, Mendes, Florian and Edgar. Lamas looked fine and proved his durability. If Aldo vacates his title as discussed, we’ll probably see Lamas in another title fight very soon.

4. Overeem fights the smart fight. It wasn’t the most entertaining, but Overeem came out with a dominant win. The discrepancy in the total strikes landed had to be some kind of record. It showed in how Mir looked compared to how Overeem looked. It was like a routine sparring session for Overeem. He had Mir in trouble early on, and give credit to Mir for surviving. The guy can take a beating and then some. Overeem clearly learned from his previous fights and stayed patient, not going after the kill, even when it seemed like it was just moments away. That’s not an easy thing to do, fighting so cerebral, when the opponent is hurt and a finish is so close (right, Jamie Varner?). Overeem backed off and was able to avoid the dangerous submissions of Mir, while grinding away at him. That should be a warning to the rest of the HW division. He was able to take Mir down and avoid his submissions. If he can do that against Mir, he can probably do that against anyone. Overeem didn’t demolish him like he did Brock Lesnar, but if he fought that fight against Bigfoot Silva and Travis Browne, you’d have to think the outcomes might have been different.

5. Bagautinov enters the Top 5. This guy is ready for a title contender and he’ll most likely get a title shot. He’s probably still one or two fights away from being ready, and he really beat Lineker by swarming on him more than anything else, but the fact is the guy is a skilled fighter. He might be thrown into a title shot regardless. The four guys ahead of him all had their chances already and the potential matchups are drying up like water in a desert. Case in point, John Moraga got a shot with only two fights in the UFC.

6. Where does Lineker belong? Has the guy made weight even once? How many consecutive weigh ins has he failed to pass with success and ease? Questions about Lineker’s cardio were answered, but he just can’t make the weight. And his style won’t match up well against the best of the best, he’s just too immobile. He’s got tons of power to his credit, but so does John Dodson and Dodson will dance around guys all night. Lineker’s ceiling was shown against Bagautinov, the blueprint on how to beat him is clear. Not a good sign for his future in the Flyweight division.

7. Comeback of the night? Abel Trujillo. You had a feeling something was coming when Varner couldn’t put Trujillo down. He had him in a world of trouble, and Trujillo almost looked out on his feet. But Varner looked gassed and was swinging wildly, and all the while Trujillo was still returning fire. Eventually one of them caught Varner square. It was one of those rare occurrences, something we see from fighters who scrap until the very end and punch their way out of trouble. It rarely works out well, but give Trujillo props for digging deep and flooring Varner. That was easily the single most shocking moment of the night. That said, Varner has to be kicking himself. He basically had that fight in the bag, but he was all hands and lost some focus there just going for a punching KO. We hardly saw an elbow, kick or knee. They would have served him very well there. A more cerebral striker would have found a way to finish that fight.

8. Patrick utterly dominates Madkessi….Wait. “What?” Rogan’s reaction summed it up. Let’s hope Nick Diaz gives Makdessi a consolation phone call. Talk about Octagon control and pursuit of the opponent. Makdessi initiated the action for the majority of the fight, got the better of the exchanges and in the later rounds, stuffed virtually every single one of Patrick’s take down attempts. Patrick was getting tagged with counters throughout the entire fight. How he wins a unanimous decision is baffling, and to get a 30-27 nod from one of the judges is ridiculous.

9. The value (sometimes overrated) of takedowns. Catone highlights a problem with takedowns – their value is hard to gauge. You have to give fighters credit for shooting for and earning takedowns, but when the opponent gets right back up and hardly takes any damage, the value of those takedowns doesn’t seem as high. If you look at how Hendricks beat Carlos Condit, it was very similar to what Catone did to Watson. Watson was throwing strikes in volume and had Catone at a noticeable disadvantage, while Catone was able to earn takedowns that proved to be essentially harmless. Watson bounced right back up every single time and went back to work, with an excellent use of leg kicks. If Catone held Watson down and put the smack down on him, that’s understandable. But those takedowns didn’t accomplish anything other than breaking Watson’s rhythm of picking Catone apart. Catone clearly had the takedown advantage, but in terms of damage dealt, Watson had the upper hand. A tough call to make.

10. Pacing, pacing, pacing. First off, Kevin Lee looked very good in his debut. Iaquinta is no cupcake and it was Lee’s UFC debut, and a short notice fight at that. Lee needs to sharpen up his striking and upgrade his gas tank. And best of all he’s only 21. Plenty of time to grow and improve. He had Iaquinta in loads of trouble in Round 2, but he didn’t pace himself and probably tried to force the submission a little too much. That gassed his arms out for Round 3 and Iaquinta only had to defend himself in Round 2, before he started peppering Lee in the last round. If Lee paced himself a bit better, that third round would have been different. Look for him to learn from this fight, the kid is going to make some noise in the Lightweight division.

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