The UFC will be kicking off Super Bowl weekend with a bang. On Tuesday, the planet’s premier mixed martial arts promotion announced a pair of title tilts will headline UFC 169.
Featherweight king Jose Aldo (pictured) puts his strap on the line against Ricardo Lamas in the night’s featured attraction, while a title unification bout between bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and interim champ serves as the co-main event.
The star-studded affair takes place February 1 inside Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. This marks the first time under Zuffa’s 12-year watch that the Octagon hasn’t held their Super Bowl weekend show in Las Vegas. Reason being, broadcast partner FOX is hosting this season’s NFL Super Bowl at nearby MetLife Stadium.
FOX will now rule the weekend, as the network’s sister station, Fox Sports 1, will broadcast the preliminary card.
Aldo has rattled off 16 consecutive victories, with the last seven being of the title defense variety, en route to becoming the most decorated featherweight champion in MMA history. “Scarface” was last seen in August posting a TKO win over “The Koran Zombie” Chan Sung Jung at UFC 163.
Lamas has been screaming for a crack at Aldo since beating fomer top contender Erik Koch in January. To say “The Bully” was upset he was passed over by Jung to battle Aldo in Brazil would be an understatement. Lamas finally gets the shootout he’s been clamoring for.
Cruz hasn’t defended his throne since posting a unanimous decision win over Demetrious Johnson in October 2011. He had his broken left index finger operated on in January 2012, then tore his knee while filming “The Ultimate Fighter Live.” The UFC was going to strip him of his crown if he wasn’t able to return by early 2014.
Cruz owns a dominant 19-1 professional record. The lone blemish on his résumé came in a submission loss to Urijah Faber back in March of 2007.
Barao, meanwhile, hasn’t lost a scrap since his professional debut in April 2005. That was 32 fights ago, which includes one no contest in the middle of his torrid run. He collected the interim title by beating Faber at UFC 149 and has since defended the manufactured belt twice.
Here is the event’s current lineup:
Alistair Overeem vs. Frank Mir
Renan Barao (UFC interim bantamweight champion) vs. Dominick Cruz (UFC bantamweight champion)
Ricardo Lamas vs. Jose Aldo (UFC featherweight champion)