Jul 21, 2012; Calgary, AB, CANADA; Renan Barao celebrates defeating Urijah Faber (not pictured) in the interim bantamweight title bout of UFC 149 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE
Writing these things isn't all that easy sometimes. Winners and losers probably seems like a pretty easy topic. Watch card, talk about fights. Not exactly rocket surgery. But when a card sucks as bad as this one did, it's pretty tough to find positives. Loading up the winners with undercard fighters like Antonio Carvalho seems a tad irrelevant (even though the Bret Hart entrance music and the KO were awesome). But guys like Carvalho, Ryan Jimmo, and Francisco Rivera really were the biggest "winners" tonight. The undercard was awesome and the main card was dismal. I'll do my best to balance relevance and positivity, but it's not easy.
Renan Barao: I feel bad for Barao here. He was a victim of circumstance to a degree, and certainly didn't deserve the terrible crowd reaction to such a solid win. The fight obviously didn't blow the doors off, but it wasn't bad by any means. Barao did everything he could to make it exciting and on any other card we wouldn't even be talking about the fight being bad. Bottom line - he did his job. The man is a UFC champion now, and completely shut down a very talented fighter in Faber. I hope that fans can eventually separate the fight from the event and see it for what it was - a very good showing by one of hte best fighters in the world.
Tim Boetsch: He broke his foot in the second round, which provides a bit of an excuse. But still - that fight was all sorts of terrible. Boetsch fought smart, and that's fine. But this was one of those rare cases where a high-profile win won't advance a fighter much in his division. Tim Boetsch isn't going to be fighting Anderson Silva anytime soon, that's for damn sure. He did pay for my weekend of drinking at +335 though, so thanks Barbarian!
Matt Riddle: I can't say I expected to be including Riddle in this side of the column, that's for sure. But that standing arm triangle was probably the coolest thing I saw all night, and he definitely deserves props for his performance. His post-fight press conference rant about UK fans was epic as well, where he referred to a Manchester fan that spit in his face at UFC 105 as a "butter-toothed Brit" and asked to fight Dan Hardy next.
Ryan Jimmo: I fully admit that I have some crow to eat. I derided Jimmo on twitter coming into the fight for being boring and I talked all kinds of smack. Then he went out and did that to Perosh. I still can't quite believe that actually happened, and his timing couldn't possibly be better. I give him full credit for what he did tonight, that was unexpected and awesome (even if the post-fight stuff was kind of weird). Don't be negative Tim. Don't be negative. Move onto the losers Tim. Be nice to Jimmo for once.
He's still boring though.
Urijah Faber: Faber's just not the same fighter he used to be. I don't know if Mike Brown beat the risk-taker out of him or what, but smart and safe Urijah Faber is way less entertaining than go-for-broke Urijah Faber. Don't get me wrong, he's still an exciting fighter and I personally enjoy his fights. Hell, Cruz/Faber 2 was my favorite fight of 2011. But it's just not the same. It's like he forgot he's a wrestler. He attempted exactly one real takedown in five rounds against Barao. Fightmetric gave him credit for 6 attempts (three in round 3, three in round 4), but that's not what I saw. I know he broke his ribs and all that, but he got eaten up by leg kicks once again and fought completely differently than he normally does. It was really disappointing. And that has nothing to do with the terrible fights before that either. Faber just looked outclassed.
Hector Lombard: I'm still not sure what to say about the reaction to Lombard. The hype train was completely out of control. It's like everyone expected the Lombard that knocked out Jay Silva in six seconds. Well when that doesn't happen, Hector Lombard fights pretty much like he fought tonight. This wasn't totally off the board. I personally thought he won the fight, taking rounds one and two with the stinging left and a takedown in each round. He didn't though, and that's fine. He didn't exactly go out there and make a statement either way, so he deserves what he got. But still - I'll never understand why people were so high on him from the start. And no, it's not revisionist history - go watch all his Bellator and CFC fights. Dude's a welterweight.
Cheick Kongo: Honestly, we shouldn't be all that surprised at this. Whenever Kongo faces someone that could actually dust him, he does everything but engage with them in the pocket. Remember the Heath Herring fight? How about the Travis Browne fight? Cro Cop? If he hasn't kneed a guy in the groin early, he decides to be a wrestler or a hugger. The Pat Barry fight was about the only time he threw down with a legit striker, and it took a miracle comeback for him to win that. Tonight, he made me legitimately angry as a fan. One punch, clinch. Two punches, clinch. He had the standup well in hand at distance but it didn't matter. It was huggy time for Kongo, and nothing was going to change his tune. I hope you enjoy your time on Fuel TV, Cheick. You earned it.
Shawn Jordan: It was pretty obvious that Jordan had main card jitters or something, because he seemed completely incapable of doing what he was being told to do. Dana White blamed Kongo and referee Yves Lavigne for the clinchfest tonight, but Jordan definitely played his part too. He had plenty of opportunities to separate and throw down, and Greg Jackson was practically screaming for him to do exactly that. But he didn't. Whether it was because he got a taste of Kongo's power and wanted nothing to do with it, or he truly thought a takedown would sway the fight, or some other convoluted reason - I don't care. You got a main card fight because you're a banger. You've got nasty power. Stop clinching and use it. That's not exactly hard to figure out.
Brian Ebersole: I understand that fighters want paychecks and will take any opportunity they can to get into the octagon. But Ebersole looked like a guy that was in the midst of dropping to lightweight, and took a short-notice welterweight fight when the opportunity presented itself. Head was way bigger and stronger than Ebersole, and that was the difference in the fight. This loss (his first in the UFC) might not damage his credibility much in a new division, but it definitely showed the path to being Hairrow - stuff the shot, deal with the awkward. Lightweight is filled with wrestleboxers, and I don't think he's going to find a lot of success down at 155 to be honest.
Calgary: I live in Vancouver. I'm no fan of Calgary. The Flames suck, Stampede's stupid, and the Saddledome looks dumb. But I feel bad for the fans that bought tickets to UFC 149. It's not the UFC's fault that everyone got injured, the refs were morons, and the main card was terrible. It was like the perfect storm of bad luck. But 16,089 fans shelled out 4.1 million dollars to see what the UFC had to offer in their first visit to the city, and they got hooped. It's probably unfair to look back at what got Calgary excited in the first place, but man - Aldo/Koch, Bisping/Boetsch, Akiyama/Alves, Big Nog/Kongo and Shogun/Thiago Silva...what could have been, Calgary. What could have been.