In the main event at UFC 149, Urijah Faber (26-5; 2-1 UFC) takes on Renan Barao (28-1(1); 3-0 UFC) for the Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship. Our USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings currently have Faber as the #2 Bantamweight in the world, and Barao just below him at #3. The UFC 149 PPV card airs live Saturday night July 21 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
Like almost all of UFC 149, this fight is not what was originally planned. Faber was set to face champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 148 to both complete their trilogy and wrap up the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. But with Cruz out with a knee injury, Barao stepped in to fight for the interim title. When Jose Aldo vs. Erik Koch had to be pulled from this show, Faber vs. Barao was moved over and became the new main event. And in many ways, it's an even more intriguing match-up than Faber vs. Cruz 3, as Barao is a red hot prospect who could potentially light up the Bantamweight division.
How do these two stack up?
Faber: 33 years old | 5'6" | 69" reach
Barao: 25 years old | 5'6" | 70" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
The California Kid Urijah Faber once ruled over the WEC. The long time WEC Featherweight champion was the company's undeniable top star, even after losing his belt to Mike Brown in 2008 and making the move down to Bantamweight. But since that title loss, Faber has been stuck in a rut. He's won every single non-title fight since that Brown loss, but lost every single title fight. This will be his 4th attempt to reclaim gold. If he fails for a 4th time, it's hard to justify him getting yet another shot.
Renan Barao has built up a lot of hype among MMA diehards. And that hype is deserved, as the Brazilian fighter has not lost a fight since losing in his MMA debut back in 2005. He fought exclusively in Brazil before coming to the WEC in 2010, and is 5-0 in Zuffa organizations, including a very impressive win over Brad Pickett last fall. Barao trains at Nova Uniao, which has to be seen as the top camp in Brazil today. He's a very exciting fighter, who has already drawn a lot of comparisons to his teammate Jose Aldo. Barao feels like a fighter who could be truly special, but this is a big test for him.
Why should you care?
First off, because this is going to be an awesome fight. Say what you will about Faber getting so many title shots, but he always delivers - it's hard to think of a boring Urijah Faber fight. Second, like I said, you get the sense that Barao could be a big deal. If so, that starts tonight, and you want to be there for it.
More UFC 149 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.