My review of UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao, an event so bad that it made Calgary fans forget about the Flames.
Renan Barao def. Urijah Faber: This fight didn’t suck, but it was extremely average and had to follow a bunch of fights that sucked. For 25-minutes Barao comfortably out-struck Faber, who seemed to have no answer for Barao’s use of distance. Even when Faber tried for takedowns, Barao easily shrugged him aside and avoided any type of scramble situation. I don’t think Faber looked as bad as people will claim, but he clearly lost the fight. It was a little surprising that Faber didn’t throw his feint uppercut more, because every time he did, it usually landed. Faber was a little too willing to play Barao’s game though and he paid for it by being on the wrong end of a decision. I liked what I saw from Barao, although I don’t think he damaged Faber as much as the commentary probably led you to believe. The leg kicks weren’t landing nearly as much or as hard as Joe Rogan freaked out for and Faber was never really rocked. I’m sure the broken rib that Faber suffered in the first round from a knee slowed him down a bit, but I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. Faber is in a tough spot now because he’s still one of the best in the division, but he’s once again failed in his quest for a title. I think he should move up to 155, where there are fresh fights for him. Frankie Edgar has done well at lightweight despite being undersized and Faber as the speed and skill to compete with the best in the division. If he stays at 135, he’s just going to keep fighting for second place. Barao is now the interim champion, although if you judged his post-fight reaction, you would’ve thought that he had just won the UFC title, the Super Bowl, and the World Cup. He’ll either face Dominick Cruz to unify the titles next or Michael McDonald if Cruz isn’t healthy by the end of the year. It’s an uphill battle for the division in terms of relevance without Faber, and Barao vs. Cruz or McDonald isn’t going to draw much attention, even if the fights should be very good.
Tim Boetsch def. Hector Lombard: So this fight sucked. I never thought Lombard was as good as advertised, but I did think he was good enough to blast through Boetsch. Instead Lombard stayed way too patient and allowed Boetsch to kick at him from range for 15-minutes. Boetsch fought a smart fight, because getting into a slugfest with Lombard would’ve gotten him knocked out, so I can’t really blame him for doing what he needed to do. Lombard was the disappointment here, because he never blitzed Boetsch or tried to use his Judo, even in the third round when he had to know that he could be behind on the judges scorecards. It was pretty obvious that the UFC wanted Lombard to win so they could set up a fight against Anderson Silva, but Boetsch ruined those plans and now the middleweight division is in a bit of limbo. Michael Bisping claims to be next in line if he beats Brian Stann, and that’s probably the UFC’s best option since he’s one of the few guys that can draw in the division while Chris Weidman probably needs another big win on a show someone actually watches before he’s ready. I still don’t know how good Boetsch is, but he’s proved in his last two fights that he’s a tough and smart fighter. Those two qualities can make up for a lack of talent against a lot of opponents. I expect Lombard to be better in his next bout, but the shine is clearly off of him and he’s going to need some spectacular KO’s to get it back.
Cheick Kongo def. Shawn Jordan: So this fight sucked as well. I was busy doing live commentary with Samer Kadi during this fight, so instead of actually having to sit through this fight bored out of my mind, I got to make fun of the fighters and listen to Samer do his Kongo impression. This entire fight took place against the cage with Kongo defending weak takedowns and then landing a couple of punches and knees. Dana White actually blamed the referee for allowing them to clinch so much, but had the ref decided to break them, they would’ve just clinched again. After the fight, both guys collapsed to their knees because they expended so much energy doing nothing. Kongo ended up winning the decision, thus keeping him as the gatekeeper of the division.
James Head def. Brian Ebersole: So this fight also sucked. Ebersole spent the entire fight trying and failing on takedowns and Head spent the entire fight letting him up. They had a couple of decent exchanges on the feet, but no one really seemed hurt or in any kind of trouble. The only time the fight went to the ground is when Head stupidly went for a guillotine and allowed Ebersole to get on top, but even then nothing happened. I don’t want to discredit Head too much since he won, but this was a really bad performance by Ebersole. He took the fight on short notice and was reportedly heading down to 155, so he lost some muscle and didn’t get in a full training camp. It was a bad loss for him, but he’ll find new life at 155 where he’ll continue to be a gatekeeper since he’s just not as talented, especially on the feet, as the top guys at lightweight.
Matt Riddle def. Chris Clements: This was a fun little scrap between two guys who aren’t going very far in the division. When Riddle wanted to grapple with Clements, he easily took him down and achieved a superior position. The only problem is, because he’s Matt Riddle, he wanted to stand for far too long. He did well on the feet, but he ate some shots as you’d expect. Riddle proved that he’s learning though as he finished Clements with a beautiful arm triangle that actually started from the standing position. Clements missed with a spinning back fist (guys should really stop throwing that), Riddle grabbed the arm triangle standing, tripped him down, and then finished it on the mat. Overall it was a strong performance by Riddle, a much needed victory, and one that will likely send Clements to the lightweight division. Riddle catches a lot of heat because he’s such a flawed fighter, but he’s never had a fight outside of the UFC and he’s slowly but surely improving. He still wants to stand and trade way too much for his own good, but his wrestling is solid and his grappling is improving, especially now that he’s training with Robert Drysdale. Plus the guy is an absolute psycho and someone you either love or hate, which at least means you have an opinion about him.