It’s time for quite possibly the most injury-plagued card in the history of the UFC. The number of cancellations for this card is simply astonishing. Seriously, I could write a couple of pages alone just on the fights that won’t be happening any more and on the fighters that are no longer on this card, but were at one time. Calgary fans sure got unlucky for their first UFC event, but they still have a couple of intriguing bouts, including an Interim Bantamweight Championship fight which will likely deliver entertainment in spades.
This Saturday from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada the UFC rolls in with UFC 149. Before getting to what’s on the card, let’s go ahead and take a look at fighters that have scratched from this event after being scheduled: Jose Aldo, Erik Koch, Michael Bisping, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Thiago Alves, Siyar Bahadurzada, Thiago Silva, Mauricio Rua, Bibiano Fernandes, George Roop, Claude Patrick and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. I think that’s all of them…
Anyways, what we do have for this card is a five round main event for the UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship. Originally scheduled to face Champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 148, Urijah Faber now faces Renan Barao, after a severe knee injury to the champion derailed that grudge match. Other main card bouts include a Middleweight bout with serious title implications between Tim Boetsch and the debuting Hector Lombard. Heavy-handed Heavyweight strikers will do battle when Frenchman Cheick Kongo takes on Shawn Jordan. Two Welterweight bouts round out the Pay Per View Main Card as Brian Ebersole steps up on short-notice to battle James Head and Canadian Chris Clements fights the always-enigmatic Matt Riddle.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Mitch Clarke vs. Anton Kuivanen
Analysis and Prediction: Clarke is a talented grappler, but the fact is that it really didn’t translate into success in his UFC debut. He was completely outworked and out grappled by John Cholish. Kuivanen was outwrestled by Justin Salas, who is a more accomplished wrestler than Cholish, but despite that, he had more success getting back to his feet and creating scrambles. On the feet, Kuivanen is far superior in the striking department, and judging by both of their UFC debuts, I don’t think Clarke can get the fight to the ground and even if he does, I don’t think he can keep it there. Kuivanen batters him on the feet and escapes the few times it hits the mat to take a late stoppage. Anton Kuivanen via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Antonio Carvalho vs. Daniel Pineda
Antonio “Pato” Carvalho is a Canadian fighter from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He is a well-rounded fighter with backgrounds in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and Shotokan Karate. He is a member of the Brazilian Top Team Canada and the Abe Ani Combat Club in Oshawa, Ontario. Carvalho is best known for his stint in Japanese MMA promotion Shooto, where he holds a notable victory over Hatsu Hioki. Carvalho is a talented striker who isn’t afraid to take the fight to the mat if things don’t go his way. Carvalho holds a professional record of 13-5. Daniel “The Pit” Pineda is a talented grappler from Houston, Texas. He is a member of the 4oz Fight Club who is a talented finisher on the ground, with 11 career victories by way of Submission. Pineda holds a professional record of 17-8.
Analysis and Prediction: Both of these fighters are well rounded, but Pineda is the more talented finisher. Carvalho is a more technical striker and has a strong chin to boot, meaning it’s unlikely that Pineda can unleash the same blitzkrieg style of attack as he has in the past. Both fighters slowed considerably as their last bouts progressed, so cardio could be an issue for both fighters in this one. As it is, I think Pineda can push the pace on the ground and will find a way to latch onto a late submission, or hold on for a decision victory. Daniel Pineda via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Bryan Caraway vs. Mitch Gagnon
Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway is an American fighter from Yakima, Washington. Caraway has fought for a number of major MMA promotions such as Strikeforce, EliteXC and the WEC. He is also known for his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. Caraway is a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California. He holds a professional record of 16-5. Mitch “The Menace” Gagnon is a Canadian fighter from Sudbury, Ontario. He is a member of the Team Shredder Gym in his hometown. Gagnon is a talented grappler with a knack for finishing his opponents in the first round, most by either Guillotine Choke or Rear Naked Choke. Gagnon has a career record of 8-1 and is making his UFC debut in this bout.
Analysis and Prediction: Caraway is basically the standard and stereotypical Team Alpha Male fighter. He uses takedowns and relentless pressure from the top to overwhelm his opponents and outwork them on the mat. Gagnon is talented off of his back, but it’s unlikely he’ll have much success against Caraway who is a capable grappler himself. There will certainly be some exciting moments on the mat, but I think Caraway will just bring too much pressure for Gagnon to handle. He succumbs to a Rear Naked Choke late in the second round. Bryan Caraway via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Ryan Jimmo vs. Anthony Perosh
Ryan “Big Deal” Jimmo is a Canadian fighter from Saint John, New Brunswick. The former MFC Light Heavyweight Champion, he is one of Canada’s top prospects at the weight class. He is a black belt in Shotokan Karate who trains with the Hayabusa Fight Team in Edmonton, Alberta. Jimmo holds a career record of 16-1, and might be best known for his short stint on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he was eliminated before making it into the house. Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh is an Australian fighter from Sydney, New South Wales. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who does his best work on the mat. The former Heavyweight fighter is a member of the Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts Academy where he is one of the head instructors. Since returning to his more natural Light Heavyweight weight-class he has racked up a 3-fight winning streak in the UFC, stopping all three of his opponents. Perosh holds a career record of 13-6.
Analysis and Prediction: Both of these fighters do their best work on the ground. Perosh has been improving his striking, but his best work is still done on the ground. Jimmo is largely hated on for his “boring” points-based approach to fighting. Jimmo is basically a less-talented version of Lyoto Machida, who employs a similar elusive style, but without the flashy striking. Perosh will basically just chase him down and although Jimmo is the better striker, he can’t do enough damage to hurt Perosh and it means that the Australian can basically just work for takedowns without repercussion. Perosh will eventually finish Jimmo on the ground. Anthony Perosh via Submission in Round Three
Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Roland Delorme vs. Francisco Rivera
“Stunning” Roland Delorme is a Canadian fighter from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was a contestant on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a member of the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. Delorme has finished every victory in his career, owning six Submissions and two TKOs. Delorme’s striking skills have been a bit of a liability in the past as he has proven extremely hittable in some of his bouts, but he has incredible heart and a strong chin. Delorme has a professional record of 8-1. Francisco “Cisco” Rivera is making his return to the UFC as a late replacement, accepting the bout less than a month ago. Rivera is actually making his return to the UFC, after being cut after losses to Erik Koch and Reuben Duran. Rivera is a member of the United MMA Gym in Buena Park, California. He is a talented striker with big power, but somewhat limited grappling skills. Rivera holds a professional record of 8-2.
Analysis and Prediction: This is basically your typical striker vs. grappler type of match. Rivera is a strong striker with big power and quick hands who can end anyone’s night given the opportunity. Delorme does get hit far too often, but his chin is superb and he can take a whole lot of punishment and keep coming forward. I expect that to be the case in this bout as he works forward through big punches and secures a takedown late in the first round before locking up a tight choke. Roland Delorme via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Court McGee vs. Nick Ring
Court “The Crusher” McGee is an American fighter from Layton, Utah. McGee is best known for his stint on The Ultimate Fighter where he won the eleventh season of the show. McGee made waves as the story of his past as a heroin addict and alcoholic tugged at heartstrings throughout the MMA world. McGee is a member of The Pit, training out of San Diego, California. He is the definition of a grinder, a workhorse type fighter who uses takedowns and top control to outwork his opponents on the mat. He holds a career record of 13-2. Nick “The Promise” Ring is a Canadian fighter from Calgary, Alberta. Ring is a former professional boxer and kick boxer who until recently was undefeated in his MMA career. Ring was a competitor on the same season of The Ultimate Fighter that McGee won, and actually defeated McGee early on in the show, before a knee injury forced him to withdraw and allowed McGee to re-enter the contest. Ring does his best work in the striking department where he can use leg kicks, a strong jab and good footwork to sprawl and brawl his way to victories. Ring has a career record of 12-1.
Analysis and Prediction: I think this is a very interesting bout. In their first fight on the show Ring was able to use a variety of kicks to keep McGee at bay and really McGee’s striking is pretty bad. In the second round McGee was able to land some takedowns and work from the top position as Ring slowed down. Ring has struggled against grinders in the past, his bouts against Boetsch and Fukuda have proven that, but he does have the tools to win. Ring has an under-appreciated grappling game, actually having a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. His sprawl is excellent early in his fights, but he often struggles with cardio and slows down later in his bouts, his lack of output makes him an easier target for takedowns. McGee was just beaten up pretty badly by rising Middleweight Contender Costa Philippou. That should be the exact game plan Ring is looking to duplicate. McGee will struggle against strikers who can keep a high output and feed him a steady diet of kicks and straight punches, as he lacks the technical precision to close the distance. If Ring has improved his cardio he can win this one, but if he hasn’t addressed the cardio issue, he wins the first round before getting controlled for the second two. It’s basically a toss up for which version of Ring shows up. Nick Ring via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Chris Clements vs. Matt Riddle
Chris “The Menace” Clements is a Canadian fighter from Chatham, Ontario. He is a member of the Team Tompkins Gym where he was trained by the late Shawn Tompkins and is currently training partners with UFC fighters such as Sam Stout and Mark Hominick. Clements is probably most notable for holding the MMA Record for the Fastest Knockout, coming at only three seconds. Clements like most Team Tompkins fighter does his best work in the striking department. His grappling acumen is decent, but he will struggle against any top-tier wrestler or grappler, so the key for him in this bout will certainly be to keep it standing. He holds a career record of 11-4.
Matt “Deep Waters” Riddle might as well change his nickname to ‘The World’s Worst Game Planner.’ Despite a talented wrestling base and a collegiate wrestling career, Riddle would rather brawl with strikers much more talented than himself. While the result often keeps the fight fans entertained, it’s definitely not the best idea for his win loss record. Riddle is a member of the Throwdown Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada where he trains regularly with some of the top wrestlers in MMA. Riddle was a cast-member of the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter and entered the house with no professional experience and has actually fought every one of his professional bouts inside the UFC’s octagon. He has done decently for himself, holding a 6-3 professional record, but if he would only use his head sometimes, he could easily be 8-1 or 9-0.
Analysis and Prediction: There really isn’t any in-depth knowledge or analysis I can give here. Clements’ ground game is weak and Riddle has the kind of top control that gives talented grapplers fits. If Riddle focuses on closing the distance and working takedowns and top control, he can pound out a stoppage or cruise to a decision. If he chooses to brawl, like he all too often does, he opens the door for Clements to test his chin often. It’s a risk but I think someone has to break through to Riddle eventually, someone will eventually tell him his striking isn’t good and to focus on takedowns. If someone does that this fight, he wins; I just wouldn’t bet on it. Matt Riddle via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Brian Ebersole vs. James Head
Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole is an American fighter who is a veteran of the sport of MMA. He is actually fighting on a relatively quick turn-around as he won his last bout less than a month ago at UFC on FX. Despite his American heritage, Ebersole is actually a world traveller, who has trained all over the globe, however he currently trains at the Kimekai/ESS Performance Gym in Melbourne, Australia. Ebersole is a grinder, who excels at using takedowns and top control to pound away at his opponents. He has a background in amateur wrestling at the collegiate level. His striking is fairly decent and although he sometimes gets hit too often, he is known for his iron chin, having never been stopped by strikes in over 65 career bouts as a pro. Ebersole holds a professional record of 50-14-1, with 1 No Contest.
James Head is an American fighter from Highland, Illinois. Head is a former Middleweight who has since dropped to Welterweight and looked impressive in his debut at the weight class. Head is a member of the Lovato Jiu Jitsu Gym in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Head is a former Golden Gloves boxer who strikes from a mainly boxing stance, throwing the odd kicks, but instead preferring to use his hands instead. Head’s best chance in this bout will be for him to try and keep Ebersole at a distance where his advantage will likely be two-fold since Ebersole is weakest striking at range and Head’s striking at range is decent. Head holds a professional record of 8-2.
Analysis and Prediction: It’s difficult to really assess Head’s current standing in terms of talent. He looked pretty awful in his UFC debut against Nick Ring where he was basically battered on the ground and absolutely worked over before getting submitted. Ebersole is currently on a ten fight-winning streak with four inside the UFC. He has the talent on the ground to simply beat Head up and despite his striking disadvantage, Ebersole has the kind of chin that you can bank on, which means he’ll probably be able to make it inside on Head relatively frequently. From there Ebersole works him over on the ground similarly to the way that Ring did. Brian Ebersole via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan
Cheick Kongo is a French fighter from Paris. He is a 37-year-old former professional kick boxer who in recent bouts has shown a lot of improvement in his wrestling and ground skills. Kongo is a member of the Wolfslair MMA Academy. Kongo is a technically sound striker who can mix his punches and kicks well. His 82-inch reach also allows him to fight well on the outside, as he has utilized a strong jab in the past. Recently when getting outworked on the feet Kongo has shown the ability to shoot for takedowns and control his opponents on the mat, which has added another dimension to his game. One thing that could be potentially dangerous for Kongo is his advanced age, as in some of his last fights he has looked slow in the striking department and his chin has been rocked in several recent bouts. Kongo holds a career record of 17-7-2.
Shawn “The Savage” Jordan is an American fighter from El Paso, Texas. Jordan is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is one of the most athletic fighters in the UFC’s Heavyweight division having been a starting Fullback for Louisiana State University in his college days. Jordan is an aggressive striker who constantly moves forward, but that might not serve him well as he will be at a massive eight-inch reach disadvantage. Jordan will certainly be looking to close the distance quickly and will be searching out takedowns constantly. Kongo has shown the ability to control weak grapplers on the ground from the top, but he has shown very little ability to anything from the bottom underneath a strong grappler. Jordan has a career record of 13-3.
Analysis and Prediction: Jordan has the ability to strike, but it’s definitely not in his best interest heading into this bout. Kongo is the better striker and with his huge reach advantage, it will be tough for Jordan to overcome that. However, Jordan is ten years younger than his foe and is significantly more athletic. He also has a strong chin, which allowed him to absorb some big punches in a recent bout against Lavar Johnson, before taking him down and working for a submission. I expect a fight similar to that one here, as Jordan eats some shots on the way in, but eventually works the big Frenchman to the floor and secures a Submission victory. Shawn Jordan via Submission in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch
Hector “Lightning” Lombard is a 34-year-old Cuban fighter. Lombard is a former Olympic level Judoka who is a 4th degree black belt in Judo and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite those impressive grappling credentials, Lombard is best known for his strong striking and big time knockout power. Lombard is a member of the American Top Team training out of Coconut Creek, Florida. Lombard owns a very impressive winning streak, having not lost since November of 2006 and is currently riding 25-fight winning streak. Lombard is probably best known for his stint in Bellator Fighting Championships where he was the Bellator Middleweight Champion, a belt that he left the promotion with when he signed with the UFC. He holds a professional record of 31-2-1 with 1 No Contest, including 24 stoppage victories.
Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is an American fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. The 31-year-old is a former Light Heavyweight fighter who has since reinvented himself as a Middleweight and is 3-0 in the UFC as a Middleweight. A member of the AMC Pankration Gym in his hometown, he is coming off of a huge comeback victory against top Middleweight fighter Yushin Okami. Boetsch has backgrounds in amateur wrestling, Judo and Jeet Kune Do. Boetsch does his best work in close during clinches, or up against the fight where he can land big uppercuts and use his strength to bully his opponents. Boetsch holds a professional record of 15-4, with 12 stoppage victories.
Analysis and Prediction: My guess here is that the UFC has big plans for Hector Lombard who has an impressive highlight reel of knockouts. Despite his 3-0 record in the Middleweight division, it’s hard to find an area in this fight where Boetsch will excel. He prefers to clinch in close and use big uppercuts and power punches to rattle his opponents. He is able to do this by using his big physical strength as well as his Judo and Wrestling skills. Unfortunately for Boetsch, Lombard is a massive Middleweight, who is extremely strong and has top-level Judo, which means controlling him in clinches will be nearly impossible. Even worse for Boetsch is that Lombard has big power in his hands and can throw with impressive speed for such a big man. At range Lombard can use his speed advantage to outwork the significantly slower Boetsch and in close he can use his Judo skills and massive power punches to control the American. Lombard dominates this one from the opening bell until the referee pulls him off of Boetsch. Hector Lombard via TKO in Round One
Main Event (Pay Per View): Interim Bantamweight Championship Bout: Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao
Urijah “The California” Kid is an American fighter from Isla Vista, California. The former WEC fighter is one of the UFC’s most popular fighters from the lower weight classes and was considered the crown jewel of the WEC for many years. Since that time he has had some ups and downs in the UFC, but he remains one of the top talents at Bantamweight. Faber is a former NCAA Collegiate Wrestler with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, who is one of the most dangerous fighters from top position as he is constantly attacking with ground and pound, guard passing and submission attempts. Faber has also shown improved boxing skills over his past few bouts, most notably against Brian Bowles who he absolutely dismantled at UFC 139. Faber trains at his home gym of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California where he is one of the founders. Faber holds a career record of 26-5, with all but one of his losses coming to UFC/WEC Champions.
Renan “Barao” Pegado is a Brazilian fighter from Natal, Brazil. He is a member of the Nova Uniao Gym in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is one of the country’s top fighters. Barao holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is the owner of one of MMA’s longest unbeaten streaks, currently sitting at 29 fights without a loss. Barao is a very well rounded fighter who has excelled in any situation that has been presented to him in his UFC career so far. In his last bout against Scott Jorgensen (a talented wrestler himself) Barao used leg kicks and strong footwork to keep Jorgensen at bay and fend off his takedowns. One advantage that Barao will have is that he mixes his strikes well using a variety of kicks and punches which allows him to fight from several different ranges and keep space from his opponents, while Faber prefers a much more boxing based approach focusing on his punches and power shots inside. Barao’s professional record currently stands at 28-1 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: I think this is a highly entertaining match up and is probably a shoe-in for Fight of the Night Honors. The one thing about this fight that’s easy to predict is that it will likely be fought at an incredible pace and there will likely be non-stop action whether it’s on the feet or on the ground. Everything else about the fight… not so easy to predict. But now that I’m done selling the fight to you, let’s get down to analysis.
The striking game will certainly be an interesting test for Faber. The key to Faber’s striking in the past has always been to close the gap quickly by shooting in for takedowns as he wades in. Lately however Faber has shown some improvement in his striking game and has become a more competent striker technically. Faber’s jab is better and he throws accurate power punches. He actually rocked Bowles a few times in their bout and Bowles is a very strong striker in his own right. Barao on the other hand is very comfortable striking and would probably prefer to keep this bout a mostly stand up affair. Barao may be the first fighter that Faber has faced who will hold a speed advantage over the Californian. Barao also mixes his kicks, knees and punches well, which allows him control of the distance and range of the fight, this will be an important factor for him as it’s key to stopping the takedowns of Faber. Barao also has one other thing going for him and that’s his training camp; Nova Uniao. He trains regularly with Jose Aldo the UFC’s Featherweight Champion who has fought Faber before and absolutely destroyed him in the striking game. The one thing that Barao has definitely watched in that fight was the success that Aldo had with his leg kicks against Faber and how hobbled and slow Faber was as a result by the end of that fight. Needless to say, Faber will need to have addressed that problem come Saturday night.
As it is, I think this is a fairly even tilt. Faber is a significant step up in competition for Barao as it’s really his first Top 5 opponent in the UFC. He was able to dominate Scott Jorgensen but Faber poses a number of different problems. If Barao can use leg kicks and range to keep the fight standing, I think he can have success, but if Faber has learned from his loss to Aldo and is able to check the leg kicks and get inside, I think he becomes the favorite in the bout. Faber is likely going to be the physically stronger fighter and should have an advantage in the clinch where he can get off some dirty boxing uppercuts, or looks for a takedown or trip from the clinch. On the ground Barao has top-level skills, but he’s never been on the bottom against someone like Faber. I think each man finds some success in each area at every point in this bout, but ultimately I think Faber takes advantage of a fading Barao late in the championship rounds and storms back to take a decision victory. Urijah Faber via Unanimous Decision