3rd star – Rashid Magomedov
Magomedov had to fight back from a 1st round that saw him get taken down by opponent Tony Martin, and then nearly had his arm ripped off before escaping an armbar while showing a grimace of pain on his face. The Red Fury Fight Team member then reversed his fortunes in the second and third rounds, taking Martin down and doing noticeable damage to his face by landing ground and pound. In addition to landing several good shots on the feet in-between takedowns, against a much taller opponent. A successful UFC debut for the former M-1 Global Welterweight Champion.
2nd star – Nova Uniao (Jose Aldo and Renan Barao)
If this was dubbed by Mike Goldberg as ‘The Superbowl of MMA’, then hands down, the ‘Superbowl winners’ of UFC 169 was the Nova Uniao team, which had both of their champions successfully retain their respective titles in dominant fashion. First featherweight champion Jose Aldo won his 17th straight fight and 6th straight UFC title defense, over Ricardo Lamas by a comfortable 49-46 unanimous decision. There wasn’t one point in the fight where it didn’t seem like Aldo was in control, until the final two minutes where Lamas was finally able to get Aldo on his back. Aldo’s trademark leg kicks did the damage early in the first two rounds, rendering Lamas a one-legged fighter.
After Aldo successfully defended his title, it was his turn to watch teammate Renan Barao do the same thing. In a rematch with Urijah Faber, Barao this time was even more dominant than the first fight—in which he won a 49-46 unanimous decision. Say what you will about the controversial stoppage—yes it was early—but it was also a leg kick followed by a straight right hand that did the damage and dropped Faber to the mat. Barao quickly swarmed on his opponent and eventually Herb Dean would step in to put a halt to the main event. Barao wins his 32nd (or 34th, depending on who’s record you believe) fight in a row, and 3rd straight title defense.
Both Barao and Aldo have not lost a fight since 2005—a span of 8 years and counting!
1st star – Abel Trujillo
Abel Trujillo was the BIG winner of UFC 169, in more ways than one. Winning an incredible comeback fight by knocking out Jamie Varner after Varner had him on the ropes for a good two minutes in the second round. Including surviving a deep north-south choke applied by Varner in the 1st round. Abel took all the shots Varner had to give and remained standing, then he unleashed a powerful right haymaker landed and put the lights out on Varner. In true ‘Killa’ fashion, he has come out and went for his opponent’s head in the last two fights. Joe Rogan described it the exchange between Varner and Trujillo in the first round as ‘What did you say about my mother’ punches.
“I was hurt like a mug out there. I’m a killa, and you gotta kill me in this mug”. Trujillo said post-fight.
This win earned Trujillo a step up on the lightweight ladder as well as a cool $125,000 bonuses—knockout of the night ($50K) and fight of the night ($75K). Trujillo named two top 10 fighters in his division that he would like to fight next, Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone.