UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao Preview – You Win Some, You Lose Some
A preview of UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao, which was an awesome card when first announced, and is now a one fight card thanks to a ton of injuries.
Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao: This is a hell of a fight, although I hate that the interim title is on the line since all main events are now five rounds and the winner of this fight is going to fight Dominick Cruz for the real title, but whatever. Barao has looked like “a monster killer” in his Zuffa run, but his competition level hasn’t been as good as Faber’s. To Barao’s credit, he’s dominated the weaker competition, which is something elite fighters should do against inferior opponents. If Barao is going to win this fight, he has to keep is standing. Faber has improved his striking over the years, but Barao hits harder and is more technical with his strikes. Both guys are good boxers, but Barao puts his punches together better and he has leg kicks at his disposal as well. If Barao can’t finish Faber early with an explosive flurry, he could still out-strike Faber over the course of 25-minutes and take a decision. Faber isn’t a bad striker, and it’s looked a lot better over his last two fights, but his bread and butter is his grappling. He’s not a great wrestler, but he’s a good wrestler made better by his ability to scramble. Even if he doesn’t complete a takedown, he has the ability to quickly take the back or grab a guillotine. Barao is a jiu-jitsu black belt, but his best work comes from being on top. We’ve never seen him on his back and being on his back against a guy like Faber, who has excellent submission defense and can damage opponents from the guard, is a losing fight for Barao. This is an extremely tough fight to call because I’m high on Barao and think he’s as talented as they come, but I’ve always been high on Faber and don’t get why so many people are down on him just because he’s losing to champions. The longer the fight goes, the more it favors Faber, unless he gets hurt badly in the first or second round and just can’t recover. But if things are even early and Barao slows down, which he’s done over the course of his career, Faber will take over the fight late. Due to that, I think Faber will take a very close and competitive decision.
Prediction: Faber, Decision
Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch: Lombard makes his long awaited UFC debut against someone who got his ass kicked for 10-minutes in his last bout before pulling off one of the best comebacks in UFC history and forcing Joe Rogan to change his pants mid broadcast. All I know is that if Lombard hits Boetsch like Yushin Okami did, he won’t be around after round two to pull off the comeback. There aren’t many guys in the sport who have the kind of explosiveness and power as Lombard, so when he connects with one of his power hooks on your chin, chances are you’re going down. Boetsch seems have a solid chin on him, but getting into a brawl or a striking contest with Lombard won’t be the smartest move in the world. However, if Boetsch decides to fight smart and uses his wrestling, he could beat Lombard. Granted Lombard is built like a statue and comes from a judo background, but Boetsch is strong in the clinch as well and it’s possible that he puts Lombard against the cage and just grinds him out. I don’t think that will happen though because Boetsch likes to brawl a little too much and Lombard is no slouch in the clinch, so even if Boetsch tries to use his wrestling, it’s not good enough to really give Lombard that many problems. Look for Lombard to make a statement in his first UFC bout with another brutal TKO finish.
Prediction: Lombard, TKO, Round 1
Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan: Kongo usually feasts on mid-level heavyweights, so one would think that he would dominate Jordan, but I just don’t trust Kongo anymore. His chin has never been great and he’s always scared to be hit, so if Jordan rushes him or waits for him to get overaggressive, I see no reason why Jordan couldn’t catch him clean and knock him out. It won’t be shocking if Kongo clinches, cheats, gets a takedown, cheats some more, and then pounds out Jordan on the ground, but I just have no faith in Kongo anymore as he’s essentially become the heavyweight version of Keith Jardine. I’d like to see Jordan knockout Kongo with a backflip, but Kongo would probably grab his shorts mid flip. So I’ll just say that Jordan catches him clean in an exchange and Kongo turns into a typical frenchman.
Prediction: Jordan, TKO, Round 1
Brian Ebersole vs. James Head: Ebersole keeps winning and yet for some reason he’s taking a step down in competition. I guess that’s what happens when you’re willing to fight anyone on any notice. Ebersole’s UFC run has been quite surprising, given how long it took him to get a fight in the company, but he’s definitely made the most of it. He’s not a great striker, but he has a hell of a chin, although we may have seen it cracked a bit in his last bout. Head is the better striker and if he can keep Ebersole in his range, he can pick him apart and win a decision, but I don’t expect Ebersole to hang around too long on the feet. I’d be shocked if Ebersole didn’t immediately look to clinch and try to get the fight to the ground, which he shouldn’t have much trouble in doing. On the ground, Head is going to have a tough time submitting Ebersole from his back and will easily be out positioned for the majority of the fight. At the very least Ebersole wins a dominant grappling decision, but he could submit Head if given the chance.
Prediction: Ebersole, Decision
Chris Clements vs. Matt Riddle: This fight being on the main card tells you all you need to know about the state of injuries and UFC running too many shows. If Riddle decides to wing wild punches and get into a brawl, he’s going to get picked apart and out-struck by Clements, who is a solid striker with diversity and power. But if Riddle decides to use his wrestling, he could win a grinding decision. Because we’re talking about Riddle here, logic says he’s going to fight dumb and take an absolute beating. Made Riddle lands one of his wild power punches and catches Clements, but if Clements can avoid that big flurry, he should be able to bust up Riddle pretty bad on the feet.
Prediction: Clements, TKO, Round 3