UFC 169 is poppin’ off this Saturday in Newark, featuring two title fights, a must-win battle between a pair of fading heavyweight legends, and a bunch of other crap that you may or may not care about. Join us as CagePotato founding editor Ben Goldstein and editor emeritus Seth Falvo debate the major storylines surrounding the event, from Urijah Faber‘s resurrected title hopes to our always iron-clad gambling advice (LOL). Enjoy…
BG: True. Barao has proven that he’s a better fighter than Faber, but the Cali Kid is so talented and dangerous that nobody really outclasses him at 135. If Barao has a bad night and Faber has a good night, it’s within the realm of possibility that Faber could find a way to choke him out; their skills aren’t that far apart. And maybe there isn’t a talent-gap whatsoever. The fact that Faber’s five WEC/UFC losses have all come in title fights — and the fact that he’s still undefeated in non-title fights, after a full decade of competition — suggests that perhaps there’s some kind of psychological block that’s preventing the California Kid from firing on all cylinders when a belt’s on the line. (Then again, that’s probably the best reason to pick against him on Saturday.) But in this chaotic sport, anything can happen. No absurd win streak lasts forever, and sometimes the sun shines on an old veteran’s ass, so to speak.
SF: False, and not just because this column would be really boring if we both agreed with each other. No one is denying that Urijah Faber is an outstanding talent, but you pretty much made my point for me when you wrote “if Barao has a bad night and Faber has a good night” in regards to his chances of becoming the bamtamweight champion. Lamas, on the other hand…okay fine, his odds aren’t looking any better. Both men have the same slim chances of walking out of The Prudential Center with their respective division’s title, making “Faber has a better chance” technically wrong, and me technically correct. And everyone knows that technically correct is the best kind of correct.
Let’s say Barao defeats Faber on Saturday. Let’s say that he also never fights Dominick Cruz. Does that make Barao’s title run any less legitimate?
SF: Not at all — or at least it really shouldn’t. It would really bum me out if the two guys who seem like the only legitimate competition for each other at bantamweight never fight, but creating a chicken/egg situation out of the mess won’t exactly solve anything. If you’re going to wonder whether Renan Barao is less of a champion for never having beat Dominick Cruz in this situation, you may as well also ponder how much Dominick Cruz benefits from never having to fight Renan Barao, the one man who could have actually beaten him. Maybe you should also think about whether Kimbo Slice would have been a UFC champion if he only learned the ground game, while you’re at it. Let it go, nerds. Trust me, it’ll be just as fun to watch Barao punch other people’s faces in.
BG: No argument there. The champion is the guy who beats the top competition available to him at any given moment in time. We don’t say that Anthony Pettis is any less legitimate because he never beat prime BJ Penn, or that Cain Velasquez is any less legitimate because he never beat the hypothetical BJJ black-belt version of Kimbo Slice, who sounds like an absolute monster, by the way. “Prime Dominick Cruz” was a person who existed in 2010-2011, then essentially disappeared due to repeated injuries. He has almost no relevance to Renan Barao, who has spent the last two years beating incredibly talented opponents like Faber, Michael McDonald, and Eddie Wineland. Barao is the best bantamweight around, period. We should give him his props accordingly.
What’s the smartest single wager you can make on UFC 169, with these odds?
SF: I’d continue to recycle that joke about how neither of us makes smart wagers, but my parlay actually returned a profit last time we did this, so let me tell you how to spend your money, dumbass.
I can’t decide if a straight bet on John Makdessi (first legitimate test for Alan Patrick), Chris Cariaso (facing a TUF washout making his UFC debut on short notice), or Renan Barao (#LOLFaberInTitleFights) is the best way to spend my money, so I’ll just recommend dropping twenty bucks on a parlay featuring all three of those guys. If it pays off, BetUS will be sending you $50.46 for your efforts. And if it doesn’t pay off, well, you only need one kidney to function, you pansy.
BG: I’ll also suggest a three-fight parlay, but mine is safer, more profitable, and actually grounded in the scientific method. Twenty bones on Ali Bagautinov, Rashid Magomedov, and Gasan Umalatov would return $62.29 in profit — and that bet is basically a lock, because they’re all Russian. From Khabib Nurmagomedov to Rustam Khabilov, Russian fighters whose names end in “v” have been unstoppable in the UFC lately. I know next to nothing about Magomedov and Umalatov, but they’re both odds-on favorites in their fights, and are you really going to bet against the Puncher King? Do the right thing, people.
John Lineker has missed weight for three of his five UFC appearances. If he misses weight again on Friday, what would be an appropriate punishment?
BG: I’m kind of surprised that the UFC hasn’t already forced Lineker up to bantamweight against his will; it just goes to show you how desperate the UFC is for flyweight contenders who can consistently finish fights. But enough’s enough. If Lineker misses weight again on Friday, the UFC should take a serious chunk out of his paycheck — say 40% — suspend him for six months, and then force him up to bantamweight. And if it happens again after that, they should fire Lineker the spot, right there at the weigh-ins. Seriously, Burt Watson should just hand him an empty banker’s box and tell him to clear his desk out, but leave the goddamned radio because we paid for that. And as security escorts Lineker out of the building, the cameras will catch Mike Dolce next to the stage, weeping into his hands. “Nutella and bananas,” he’ll say to nobody in particular, “and all this could have been avoided.”
SF: Weight cutting isn’t exactly good for your body in the first place, making it all the more disturbing to watch a talented, promising fighter like John Lineker continue to put himself through hell for a size advantage he arguably doesn’t need in the first place. As badly as the UFC wants flyweights that the casual fans actually care about, the last thing that the promotion needs is a fighter dying due to a far-too-stressful weight cut; just imagine the chaos that would cause. I’m with you on the fine and pushing him up to bantamweight, but a suspension? That’ll only give Lineker time to pack on mass so he can continue to sabotage his health with vicious weight cuts when he begins fighting at bantamweight, pretty much making him the Anthony Johnson Lite. If Lineker misses weight for his bantamweight debut, I really hope that the audience sings “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” I’ve always wanted to hear the crowd at an MMA show do that.
SF: If Mir loses this fight — and for what it’s worth, the oddsmakers sure seem to think he will — expect him to retire and accept a comfortable desk job with the UFC. With the company pushing so hard for “World Fucking Domination,” it needs as many brand ambassadors (read: people to tweet selfies of themselves at historical foreign monuments and high-five the locals) and competent commentators for these international Fight Pass cards as it can get, and Frank Mir is the perfect candidate for either position. Especially the latter, given how he excelled during his WEC commentary stint.
If Overeem loses this fight, here’s how I see things playing out: A pink slip from the UFC, a four month retirement, a return to kickboxing, a departure from drug testing, the return of his once-Herculean physique, an occasional MMA fight in Europe and/or Asia, the opening of his own gym, his appearances in the indies becoming increasingly tragic, the closure of his gym, him calling out whoever the UFC Heavyweight Champion is at the time, and then five months later he’s found dead. The official cause of death will be heart failure due to a fatal combination of painkillers and muscle relaxers he took for his lingering injuries.
Okay, at some point during that I got bored and began typing the life story of Every Professional Wrestler Ever, but you get the idea.
BG: Man, I wasn’t prepared for how depressing this column was going to get. I mean, Frank Mir being forced into a desk job? Total nightmare. For the purposes of this answer, I’ll make a concrete prediction and say that Mir will lose by TKO in round 2, and Overeem will save his job. Mir will be cut and immediately snapped up by World Series of Fighting, where he’ll beat Mike Kyle (obviously) to set up a heavyweight headliner at WSOF 13 against Anthony Johnson. Johnson will knock Mir out in under a minute, making Rumble the first UFC welterweight washout to somehow hold victories over two former UFC heavyweight champions. Mir will retire from MMA and transition into strip-club management in his hometown of Las Vegas. After his divorce, Mir will move into an apartment with Pete Rose, who will constantly refer to Mir as “kid.”