We’re under a week away from the UFC’s much anticipated super bowl card which will feature not 1, but 2 championship bouts. UFC 169 will go down Saturday, February 1, 2014 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Fight Pass prelims will start at 6:30 pm ET, the Fox Sports 1 prelims start at 8:00 pm ET and the main card starts at 10:00 pm ET only on Pay-Per-View. Our full picks for UFC 169 will be out later this week! By the way, if you haven’t checked out Reed Kuhn’s Fightnomics it is a must read for any UFC fan, or anyone interested in betting on UFC fights.
In the main event, Renan Baro and Urijah Faber will do battle for the UFC Bantamweight Championship of the World. Barao only recently became the full fledged UFC bantamweight champion as he was supposed to face Dominick Cruz at the event, but Cruz got injured and vacated his title just a couple weeks ago. Since losing the WEC Featherweight title in 2008 to Mike Brown, Urijah Faber has lost all four of his opportunities to win a title. He is now on a four fight win streak though, culminating with his incredible performance in his last fight where he looked dominant against another top 10 bantamweight, Michael McDonald, eventually finishing the fight with a submission in the middle of round 2 which was set up with some impressive striking. Faber has looked faster and more powerful than ever before on his recent streak. Unfortunately for him, he is facing a guy in Barao who hasn’t been defeated in over 8 years. In fact, Barao’s only loss came by way of decision in his first fight in April, 2005. Barao defeated Faber in July, 2012 to win the interim title and has defended it successfully 2 times since then. In their initial fight, Barao just appeared to be a bit more effective. With Barao at the age of 26 and Faber at the age of 34, there is little chance we’re going to see anything significantly different in the second meeting. Our model has Barao as the significant favourite to retain his title, but at 1.35 the value in betting on him just isn’t there. The over 4.5 rounds is the more likely outcome in terms of round betting, but at 1.67 to 1, we don’t want to lay money on that either.
The co-main event also features a title fight as Jose Aldo will defend his featherweight strap against Ricardo Lamas. Like Barao, Aldo is Brazilian and also like Barao, Aldo has remained undefeated for over 8 years. His last defeat came in November, 2005. Since winning the featherweight title, Aldo has defended it an impressive 7 times, with 3 of those 7 defenses coming by way of TKO or KO. Aldo hits with incredible power for a 145 lbs man, finishing 14 of his 23 career fights by TKO. His challenger at UFC 169, Ricardo Lamas earned his title shot by winning 4 straight, the most impressive of which likely being his second round submission win over current #4 ranked featherweight, Cub Swanson. One of the most impressive stats about Aldo is that even with 7 title defenses where he’s fighting the best in the division, he defends 92% of takedowns that are attempted against him. Lamas, who has been fighting a lower level of competition defends just 48%. Aldo is obviously more confident in his striking game though, as he only lands approximately 1 takedown per fight. Still though, he is more accurate with his takedowns than Lamas, landing 69% to Lamas’s 38%. On the feet, Aldo lands 3.29 significant strikes per minute while Lamas lands 2.44. Aldo absorbs just 1.81 significant strikes per minute and defends 74% of strikes against. Lamas absorbs 1.91 and defends 64% of the strikes attempted against him. Our model heavily favours Aldo and we think it’s absolutely correct in this match-up. Unfortunately, Aldo is a heavy favourite at 1.17 to 1 so we will hold off placing a bet on this match-up.
In the middle of the main card are the big men, as Alister Overeem and Frank Mir both look to re-establish themselves in the UFC’s heavyweight division after falling by the wayside with a couple of high profile losses. The most impressive part about the fight is that both these guys are still able to live a normal life after the punishment they have absorbed. Frank Mir has been knocked out an astonishing 7 times in his career. Not to be outdone, Overeem has been knocked out 8 times. Mir enters the fight on a 3 fight losing streak including TKO losses to Josh Barnett and Junior Dos Santos. Mir has always been known as a jiu jitsu expert, but it seems the times are catching up with him and it is now rare to find a heavyweight who is completely inept on his back. Previously, Mir could exploit the unskilled heavyweights to earn easy submission victories. Alister Overeem has lost two in a row by knockout after entering the UFC amid much hype and defeating Brock Lesnar by TKO. In both of Overeem’s knockout losses, he began the fight in total control and due to lack of cardio or intelligence, he gave the match-up away. After being burned by Overeem against Antonio Silva, there’s no way we will bet on him here as a heavy favourite. We should note that our model does have Overeem as a very big favourite to take the victory. Where we will bet though has been previously documented. We placed a 2 unit bet on the glass jaw parlay at 2.25 to 1 (Gonzaga/Miocic and Overeem/Mir under 2.5 rounds). Unfortunately, the bet lost at UFC on Fox 10 as Miocic and Gonzaga fought to a decision.
We will pass over the Lineker/Bagautinov contest as there is not enough data to predict it mathematically and jump to the lightweight contest between Jamie Varner and Abel Trujillo which will open the main card. Trujillo was initially supposed to face Bobby Green, but Green pulled out of the fight and Varner stepped up to take his place. Varner has had a mediocore UFC career. In total he’s been 3-3 under the UFC banner and was 4-3 in his WEC career. For Trujillo, Varner is a huge step up in competition after fighting to a no contest with Roger Bowling in their first contest and winning via TKO in the rematch. In the fight before the two with Bowling, Trujillo fought Khabib Nurmagomedov where he was absolutely smothered for 15 minutes. The thing about that loss for Trujillo though is Nurmagomedov is a freak who can smother the majority of his opponents. Varner does not possess the same ability. Varner is a solid wreslter who wrestled in college at Lock Haven University. When looking at the stats, we have to consider that Varner has faced a much higher level of competition, but Trujillo lands more significant strikes (3.98 per minute to 2.89 per minute for Varner), lands fewer takedowns (2.97 per fight to 3.73 for Varner) and defends fewer takedown attempts against (37% to 64% for Varner). Our model favours Trujillo to take the victory, as it did in his last fight against Bowling. We placed a 3 unit bet on Trujillo at 2.56 to 1.
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest. In terms of event picks, following UFC on Fox 10: Henderson vs Thomson will be UFC 169: Barao vs Faber II. We will likely have our main card picks, predictions and bets out for UFC 169 tomorrow night or Saturday during the day so stay tuned! Don’t forget to grab yourself a copy of Reed Kuhn’s Fightnomics…its a great read and well worth the $10 on Kindle.
Glass Jaw Parlay (Miocic/Gonzaga and Mir/Overeem under 1.5 rounds). 2 units at 2.25 to 1
Trujillo over Varner. 3 units at 2.56 to 1