UFC 149 Preview: Faber vs. Barão
UFC is coming to Alberta, Canada! A night of fights will take place this Saturday, July 21st, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. The fights that were supposed to happen on this card but were scrapped due to injury are too numerous to list (Aldo/Koch, Akiyama/Alves and Silva/Rua are just a few), but Joe Silva managed to put together a decent card with 7 Canadian fighters and 5 TUF alumni. Read on to see what's in store.
Team Alpha Male's Urijah Faber was originally supposed to face fellow TUF coach Dominick Cruz, but Cruz suffered an unfortunate injury during the show. The "California Kid" will instead face Renan "Barão."
Faber has only lost to Cruz since he cut down to bantamweight, most recently defeating Brian Bowles via 2nd round guillotine in the title eliminator bout. Nova União black belt Renan "Barão" is riding a 29-fight winning streak, including 3 UFC and 2 WEC bouts. Pegado's sole loss came to Joao Paulo in his professional debut back in 2005 (and he has a no-contest in 2007). Barão was supposed to face Ivan Menjivar at UFC 148 to determine the top contender, but will now be fighting for the interim bantamweight title. This could be a tough fight for Faber to win, but if he does, he'll be in line for his rubber match with Dominick Cruz once the UFC bantamweight champ is all healed up.
Hector "The Lightning" Lombard is a promotional newcomer stepping in as a late replacement for Michael Bisping. A judo black belt who fights out of American Top Team, Lombard has amassed a stellar record but faced criticism for not fighting top opponents. Tim "The Barbarian" Boetsch will show where Lombard stacks up. The AMC Pankration fighter has won three in a row and, of course, will have had a full training camp.
Cheick Kongo had a phenomenal 2011, defeating Pat Barry in the biggest comeback fight of the year, and following that up with a unanimous decision victory over Matt Mitrione. 2012 has been a different story so far, though, as he suffered a knockout loss to Mark Hunt at UFC 144 in the end of February. Jackson's MMA product Shawn "the Savage" Jordan won in his UFC debut, defeating Oli Thompson by TKO. Kongo was supposed to face Big Nog, but Jordan is jumping in as a late replacement, and a bit of a step down in competition.
James Head was supposed to face Claude Patrick in this bout, but will now be fighting late replacement Brian Ebersole. Ebersole last fought on June 21st, defeating TJ Waldburger by decision. Known for his cartwheel kicks and chest hair artwork, Ebersole has won 11 in a row and clearly has a tremendous experience advantage over James Head. Head lost to Nick Ring in his UFC debut, but then dropped to welterweight and defeated Papy Abedi by decision. This is a ridiculous step up in competition for him, though, so it'll be interesting to see what he can do with it.
Chris "The Menace" Clements, who trained with the late, great Shawn Tompkins, defeated Keith Wisniewski by split decision in his UFC debut at UFC 145 this past April. BJJ purple belt and TUF season 8 alum Matt "Deep Waters" Riddle is coming in as a late replacement for Siyar Bahadurzadal.
Preliminary Card on FX
Court "The Crusher" McGee faced Nick Ring for the first time during the 11th season of the Ultimate Fighter. Ring won a decision so controversial that McGee was brought back on the show. Dana White (and others) believed the fight should have gone to a 3rd round. McGee was supposed to rematch Ring, but "The Promise" pulled out of the competition due to a knee injury, so this fight will be the long-awaited rematch. Both Ring and McGee have gone 2-1 since their time on TUF, and this should be a competitive and spirited rematch.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 participant Roland "Stunning" Delorme was supposed to face BJJ phenom Bibiano Fernandes, but "The Flash" ended up not signing to the UFC. Instead, the scrappy grappler will face the heavy-handed "Cisco" Rivera, who has won three in a row.
MFC light heavyweight champ Ryan "Big Deal" Jimmo was on the 8th season of the Ultimate Fighter, getting attention from Dana White despite losing to Antwain Britt in the bout to get into the house. He was supposed to fight Karlos Vemola for UFC on FX 1 but pulled out of the bout due to injury. He'll stand a stiff test in Anthony "the Hippo" Perosh, a BJJ black belt widely regarded as Australia's best fighter. Perosh has won three in a row, all via stoppage, since he went back down to light heavyweight at UFC 127.
"Kid Lightning" showcased his wrestling prowess during The Ultimate Fighter: Bisping vs. Miller, but his chin was a bit lacking. He is coming off a submission win at The Ultimate Fighter 14 finale, where he defeated Dustin Neace via 1st round rear-naked choke. Submission specialist Mitch Gagnon will be Caraway's next test; he'll be making his promotional debut in front of a hometown crowd.
Preliminary Card (Facebook)
BJJ black belt "Pato" Carvalho lost in his promotional debut against Felipe Arantes, and was supposed to be fighting George Roop on this card. Roop, however, pulled out due to injury. Pineda has gone 2-1 in his UFC career, defeating Pat Schilling and Mackens Semerzier, both by 1st round submission. He most recently lost to Mike Brown via unanimous decision. This could be a competitive bout.
After accumulating a 9-0 record in the local circuits in Canada, Mitche Clarke made his UFC debut at UFC 140, where he was summarily knocked out by fellow promotional newcomer John Cholish. Kuivanen also lost in his promotional debut, ending up on the wrong side of a decision in a bout against yet another promotional newcomer, Justin Salas. This may be the last chance for both these fighters to at least put on a good show, if not win, in order to keep their UFC contracts.