The much maligned UFC 149 finally took place. This card was an honest attempt to give the crowds of Calgary a quality UFC card with a title fight at the top, but the injury curse intervened more than a few times to reduce this event. In the end this card wasn't a barn burner, in fact it was dreadful at times, but it certainly had its moments also. Lets get into the discussion points for this Sunday.
I was so very wrong about Renan Barao. In my breakdown of his fight with Urijah Faber, I looked back at the beating Barao's teammate Jose Aldo put on Faber and said that would not happen again. While Barao enjoyed a reach advantage, I insisted that the difference was that Barao was not as fast as Aldo or Faber. After seeing last night's fight I'm not sure how Barao's speed stacks up to Aldo, but there is no doubt he is faster than Faber. He kept Faber right at the edge of his reach and basically nullified most of the California Kid's offense with distance, hard kicks, and straight punches.
This is not to say Faber did nothing. He got his right hand working at times and did win the third round on my scorecard but in the end Faber's path to victory lay on the ground and he was never even close to getting it there.
More thoughts after the jump...
- If Faber had won I would have said that we had a nice little rivalry developing between Team Alpha Male and Nova Uniao, but as it stands it seems like Nova Unaio has Team Alpha Male's number. Jose Aldo has beaten both Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes and now Barao has put a beating on Faber. The last time I can recall an Alpha Male fighter beating a Nova Uniao fighter in a major match was Joseph Benavidez choking out Wagnney Fabiano in the WEC. Nova Uniao and Andre Pederneiras just seem to have MMA figured out as they consistently produce well rounded, athletic fighters.
- Faber has shot down talk of a drop to Flyweight and that leaves many wondering where his career will go from here. He is clearly still an elite Bantamweight, but is unlikely to ever hold a title again. The rivalry with Cruz is too much of a possible draw for the UFC to want Faber to leave the division, so expect Faber to keep getting fights at 135.
- Hector Lombard and Tim Boetsch had the kind of fight that nobody wins and everyone loses. Lombard looked ridiculous, standing in place and eating kicks, all while purely head hunting without setting any of his strikes up. So I guess he looked like, well... Hector Lombard when his punches don't instantly put a guy to sleep. Boetsch won a tepid decision by kicking at range, staying on his bicycle and generally looking terrified of Lombard's hands. And the fans had to sit through this, so again, everyone lost.
- Cheick Kongo went out and did what he does best, keep the heavyweight gates. In a moment of irony it was Kongo who found himself on the receiving end of groin shot, proving that what goes around still does come around. Cosmic justice aside, Kongo has been with the UFC since UFC 61, which featured a Heavyweight title fight between Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, and proved his worth as a gate keeper yet again. Some people, including Dana White, are really unhappy with how Kongo fought but this is far from the first time he has used a clinch heavy strategy.
- Brian Ebersole looked lost against James Head. At no point in the fight did Head look fantastic, but he stopped everything Ebersole threw at him. And in return Ebersole could not adjust. He never found his range on the feet and ended up shooting for takedowns from way outside and as a result was easily stuffed. One thing Ebersole did clearly figure out was that Head had didn't have the intention or the ability to finish a guillotine, so Ebersole at the very least felt safe shooting for takedown after takedown. A disappointing showing for Ebersole who was riding a nice little UFC winning streak.
- Matt Riddle not only remember how to grapple but also that there are other ways to fight besides winging Leonard Garcia-like haymakers all night. Riddle is still really young at 26-years-old and his entire career has been in the UFC, so there is still a chance he turns into an interesting Welterweight and this fight kept that little spark of hope alive.
- Josh Rosenthal is a good referee but that was a horrid call when he thought Riddle's clean liver kick was a low blow. It was terrible and very well could have cost Riddle the fight.
- Three great knockouts on the undercard. Francisco Rivera's was the least surprising as he is a striker by trade and was facing a grappler in Roland Delorme who can get blasted. Antonio Carvalho's knock out was excellent also, but Ryan Jimmo's was epic. Jimmo hasn't been the most thrilling fighter in his career but that was a heck of way to introduce himself to UFC fans.