Renan Barao took out Urijah Faber in short order at UFC 169. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
The void in Urijah Faber’s otherwise stuffed career trophy case remains unfilled.
Renan Barao stopped Faber on first-round punches to retain his Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight belt in the UFC 169 headliner on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Referee Herb Dean intervened 3:42 into round one, “The California Kid” having been badly rocked by a pair of thudding right hands.
“He’s a very tough guy. He’s very resilient, so I knew it was going to be a tough fight,” said Barao, his winning streak at 22 fights and counting. “I trained very hard for this fight. I left my family and my comfort zone. I always wanted to move forward and look for that knockout.”
Faber (30-7, 6-3 UFC) did not agree with the stoppage.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “I’m one of the most durable guys in the world. You get caught with punches. He told me to do something, so I gave him a thumb’s up right before he stopped it. Herb is a great referee. I just wish I would have had more of a chance. I’m the type of guy who likes to go to the bitter end. I’m holding onto the leg. He asked me for something, and I gave him a thumb’s up, unless I was dreaming. I had some more fight in me.”
For his part, Barao (32-1, 7-0 UFC) was virtually flawless. He floored Faber with a searing right hand roughly two minutes into the bout and turned up the heat with knees and punches. The Team Alpha Male cornerstone endured the initial onslaught and pressed on. Later, Barao staggered and dropped the former World Extreme Cagefighting champion with an overhand right. A series of unanswered hammerfists followed, as Faber shielded his head with one hand and clung to the champion’s leg with the other.
“I hit him with a right hand and saw he was groggy,” Barao said, “so I got on top of him and continued with the barrage of punches.”
One of MMA’s most decorated and beloved figures, Faber has lost his last six title fights. He still has never held UFC gold.
“What am I supposed to do to give him an OK here when I’m holding onto a leg and covering up when I’m getting struck at?” Faber asked. “I would say a limp body would be a step in the right direction. I’ve got my hand covering my head and I’m holding onto a leg, but again, Herb is one of the best referees in the game, and he has our best interest at heart.”
Aldo Turns Away Lamas, Retains Featherweight Crown
In the co-main event, Jose Aldo retained the UFC featherweight championship with a unanimous verdict over Ricardo Lamas. All three cageside judges scored it 49-46 for the Nova Uniao ace.
Aldo (24-1, 6-0 UFC) pitched MMA’s equivalent of a shutout for four rounds, battering the challenger with exquisite multi-punch and multi-kick combinations. Lamas’ lead leg took a beating, as the Brazilian uncorked his trademark low kicks with venom and vigor. Aldo put his rarely seen ground game on display in the fourth round, where he surprised “The Bully” with a takedown and jumped to mount before moving to the back. He then fished unsuccessfully for a rear-naked choke.
It appeared the fifth round would follow a similar script, as Aldo delivered another takedown and again moved to mount. However, Lamas (13-3, 4-1 UFC) scrambled into top position and spent the final 2:30 dialing up elbows and standing-to-ground punches from inside the champion’s guard. Unfortunately for the 31-year-old Chicago native, the finish he needed to dethrone one of MMA’s pound-for-pound best never materialized.
“He took a lot of kicks on the leg. I was surprised he kept going, but he’s a great fighter,” said Aldo, who has posted 17 straight wins. “His will impressed me. I knew it was going to go five rounds. I’m surprised it went that well, and it was a tough five rounds, even to the end.”
Overeem Routs Mir, Settles for Decision
Former Strikeforce champion and 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix winner Alistair Overeem put a stop to a two-fight losing streak with a one-sided unanimous decision over Frank Mir in a heavyweight showcase. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Overeem (37-13, 2-2 UFC), who won for the first time since he smashed Brock Lesnar in December 2011.
Overeem nearly finished it in the first round, where he cracked the 34-year-old Las Vegas native with a devastating knee strike from the clinch. A dazed Mir stumbled and fell backwards, with the Dutchman in close pursuit. Punches and elbows followed, but Mir managed to weather the assault.
Mir’s best chance at victory came and went roughly 90 seconds into round two, as he struck for a takedown and sat down on a guillotine choke. The decision was ill-advised. Overeem freed himself without much effort and lit into the former UFC titleholder with ruthless ground-and-pound. Mir (16-9, 14-9 UFC), who has lost four fights in a row, pulled guard in the third round, only to be met by a steady diet of forearms, fists and elbows.
“Frank is a very tough and experienced fighter,” Overeem said. “I’ve also seen him trick fighters by [pretending] to be dazed and then he pulls out a surprise submission victory. That’s why I had to play it a little bit safe. Usually, I always go for the knockout. This fight, we chose to pace ourselves a little bit and secure that [win].”
Bagautinov Downs Lineker, Wins 11th Straight
Takedowns, ground-and-pound and unshakable resolve carried two-time combat sambo world champion Ali Bagautinov to a unanimous decision over John Lineker in a featured flyweight scrap. Bagautinov (13-2, 3-0 UFC) swept the scorecards by matching 29-28 counts, as he extended his career-best winning streak to 11 fights.
Lineker (23-7, 4-2 UFC) had his moments. The former Jungle Fight champion tore into Bagautinov with a wicked series of body blows in the second round, forcing the Dagestani flyweight to dive for takedowns out of sheer self-preservation. However, rounds one and three belonged to Bagautinov, as he grounded and neutralized the heavy-handed Brazilian. The fast-rising 28-year-old closed with a flourish, securing four takedowns over the final five minutes.
Blackzilians’ Trujillo KOs Varner
Blackzilians representative Abel Trujillo knocked out former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Jamie Varner with a nuclear right hook in the second round of their lightweight showcase. Trujillo (12-5, 3-1 UFC) brought the barnburner to a dramatic close 2:32 into round two.
Varner (21-9-1, 3-4 UFC), who threatened his counterpart with a north-south choke in the first round, had the Greensboro, N.C., native on unsteady legs in the second. He tore into Trujillo with a vicious left hook and swarmed with punches. A finished seemed imminent but a wild exchange ensued. Trujillo detonated the finishing blow on Varner’s chin, sending him to the canvas face first and unconscious.
A late replacement for the injured Bobby Green, Varner had never before been knocked out.
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