UFC 149: The card that almost wasn’t…

The much maligned UFC 149 is on Pay Per View this Saturday. While this card isn’t much better on paper than last month’s UFC 147, I think there is a legitimate chance that this card could deliver for fight fans.  This card started out STACKED, but due to injuries and shake ups we are left with a card lacking serious name recognition.  We are treated to a solid Main Event featuring UFC poster boy Urijah Faber v. Renan Barao for the interim Bantamweight Title. We also finally get to see Bellator beast Hector Lombard debut in the cage against Tim ‘The Barbarian’ Boetsch. While our buddy Chieck Kongo is once again relegated to gatekeeper duty in the Heavyweight division. On to the preview!

Main Card

Chris Clements (11-4) v. Matt Riddle (6-3)

This fight is really on Pay Per View??? Joe Silva’s job can’t be easy with all the injuries these days. Neither of these guys have been all that impressive throughout their careers, and it seems Riddle is still riding on his talent and potential that got him drafted second by Team Rampage on TUF 7. The Canadian Clements will be the Canadian fan favorite here and I expect him to ride the crowd to victory. Clements by decision.

Brian Ebersole (50-14-1-1) v. James Head (8-2)

Ebersole was a late replacement here. He last fought on June 22nd when he laid the smacketh down on TJ Waldenburger for three rounds earning a unanimous decision. Talk about staying active, eh? I think Ebersole’s ridiculous experience advantage will earn him a victory in this scrap. If you take a gander at his resume, Head’s most impressive win came over Gerald Harris at an event called Xtreme Fight Night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I think Ebersole and his hairrow make quick work of the young gun. Ebersole via submission.

Ebersole is also slated to star in the next Saw sequel…

Shawn Jordan (13-3) v. Cheick Kongo (17-7-2)

Cheick ‘The Gatekeeper’ Kongo…  I truly had no idea who Shawn Jordan was before I watched the UFC produced 149 Preview show. After seeing a mix of his highlights showing his mix of power and athleticism, I have to say I was impressed. Add in the fact that he played football for LSU and I was pretty darn excited for this kid. Then Greg Jackson’s gleaming dome popped onto the screen…

If you read my blogs or follow us on Twitter, I have not been a fan of the “Gameplans” that Greg Jackson has been giving his fighters recently.  Though, when Jordan talks about this matchup he insists that the fight will be a slugfest and he and Kongo will go out and trade ‘bombs’. I am sure if it was up to Jackson, Jordan would avoid trading with the lethal Kongo and attempt to use his bulk to keep Cheick on the cage for three rounds and ride his way to victory. Luckily, I think Shawn Jordan has enough of the Rob Gronkowski/Matt Mitrione meathead mindset that he will go out and try to strike with Kongo on Saturday. We all know Kongo’s shortcomings on the ground, but the guy has devastating striking ability. Well shown in his Rocky-esque comeback against Pat Barry nearly a year ago. Kongo’s chin has been a bit questionable at times, but I believe if this is the stand up war that Jordan promises the elder kickboxer will get the better of the exchanges. Kongo by KO.

Hector Lombard (31-2-1-1) v. Tim ‘The Barbarian’ Boetsch (15-4)

Hector Lombard has been one of the most sought after free agents by the UFC for a few years now, and finally on Saturday he makes his debut in the big show.  You wonder why a guy as talented as Lombard has taken so long to make it to the big leagues? When you look at the guy, he is built like an absolute tank. He has the same kind of build that Overeem had, and we all know what happened to him after he made his first appearance in the Octagon. (Just sayin’…)  Lombard started out as a Judo player on Cuba’s national squad and has taken his talents to Miami to train with American Top Team. He is a vicious striker with 17 KO’s on his resume. If he wins on Saturday many are saying that he may be next in line for a title shot against Middleweight King Anderson Silva. Most are simply brushing his opponent aside and moving on to Lombard’s UFC future. Not so fast…

It is impossible for you to be a red-blooded American and not be rooting for Tim Boetsch on Saturday night. First of all, he is facing off against a Cuban, remember that whole Missile Crisis thing? Boetsch is a farm boy from Maine that still runs his own landscaping service. He has that crazy farm-hand strength thing going for him where you know he could wrestle an unruly bull to the ground if he had to. He was a high-level amateur wrestler with a few state championships under his belt. After a middling career at 205 pounds, Boetsch dropped to 185 and became a monster. His vicious throws, slams, and strikes have made him a fan favorite. His comeback against Yushin Okami in Japan at UFC 144 is stuff of legend. I don’t think I have ever heard Joe Rogan so amped up to be calling a fight. Tim got the stuffing knocked out of him for 2 rounds and put it all on the line in the third. Battered and bloodied, he rushed Okami, throwing punch after punch. He wobbled Yushin and went in for the kill and earned a KO victory. I really wish more fighters were like ‘The Barbarian’ and went balls to the wall trying to earn a win instead of merely coasting to a decision loss. *cough* Tim Kennedy *cough*…

This bout is a tough cookie to crack. If you look at each fighter’s record, the best win by either guy is certainly Boetch’s over Okami. But he did get the crap kicked out of him for two rounds of that fight. Lombard hasn’t exactly been fighting the cream of the crop the last few years and his cardio has been called into question by some. I mean, if you carry all that muscle aren’t you just asking to gas out? I think we are in for a war here. This may be my inner patriot coming out, but I think Boetsch can outlast the newcomer here. Boetsch by decision.

Nobody makes The Barbarian bleed his own blood!!!

Main Event

Interim Bantamweight Title Fight

Urijah ‘The California Kid’  Faber (26-5) v. Renan Barao (28-1, 1 NC)

I am sick of Interim titles. They don’t mean jack. They are glorified pieces of gold and leather that guarantee that you are the number one contender for the ‘real’ belt.  Faber has insisted that if he wins, he will in fact defend the ‘belt’ before a unification bout with the injured Dominick Cruz. While Barao has stated he may hold on to the Interim belt until he can meet with Cruz in the cage to unify the titles. Point, Faber.

Barao comes into Saturday with the longest winning streak in MMA. He hasn’t lost since his first pro fight back in 2005, aside from a no contest featuring an illegal soccer kick.  Like Lombard though, Barao hasn’t exactly been fighting the best guys on the block. Sure he has rattled off some wins in the WEC, and beat up a few guys in the UFC’s new Bantamweight division. But let’s face it, the Bantamweight division doesn’t have the depth of say the UFC Welterweight, or Light Heavyweight division. There is a HUGE difference in fighting Scott Jorgensen and Urijah Faber. Faber may be 0-4 in his last four title fights but he is surely the greatest test that Barao has ever encountered.

Barao has terrific stand up with his athletic knees and powerful punches. He also sports a ground game that is second to none, a BJJ black belt with 13 submission wins to his name. Though watching his recent fights, Barao has been beating up on guys that are MUCH smaller than him, they all seem to be lanky compared to Renan’s stout frame. Faber will likely be the strongest guy Barao has encountered

We all know Urijah Faber is one of the UFC’s golden boys. His laid back California attitude makes him a great asset to put in front of the cameras. Many attribute his Public Relations ability as to why he has gotten so many shots at the strap. This claim could hold some water, but the guy is a hell of a fighter. He can knock you out, take you down, or choke you out with relative ease. He has shown the heart and will of a champion on multiple occasions showing he will walk right through certain pain in order to give himself a shot at victory.  Jose Aldo, Barao’s training partner, absolutely ravaged Faber with leg kicks when they met in the WEC. It was so bad that Faber could barely walk during and after the fight. I expect Barao to come into Saturday with a similar style. Faber and his Team Alpha Male cohorts have likely worked on a checking leg kicks over the last few months hoping to neutralize the Brazilian’s tactics.

Faber is the Vegas underdog in this one. This may have to do with Barao’s impressive streak and reputation as a “monster”. Barao has never fought anyone as tough as Faber, and Faber knows that. He will be looking to break the Brazilian in the later rounds and grind his way to victory. I have to go with Faber by Decision.

Wait, what!?!?!

As always, If you disagree with my picks feel free to drop a line in the comment section! And remember to follow us on Twitter! Enjoy the fights!

-ALar

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