With the UFC’s bantamweight king “The Dominator” Dominick Cruz (19-1) on the sidelines for an extended period of time due to knee surgery, the UFC quickly matched up the challenger and former WEC Featherweight Champion “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (26-5) with the outstanding Brazilian contender Renan Barao (28-1) to fill the main event slot at UFC 149 for the interim 135lbs. championship. The unstoppable man with the Bellator, CFC, and AFC middleweight belts around his waist, “Shango” Hector Lombard, (31-2) will face new challenges in the UFC with his first opponent being “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (15-4). IFL veteran “The Menace” Chris Clements (11-4) goes to war against TUF 7 veteran Matt Riddle (6-3). “Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (50-14) returns just a month out from his victory at UFC on FX 4 to face off against James Head (8-2) in perhaps Ebersole’s final bout at welterweight. In the co-main event of UFC 149 a heavyweight bout pits long-time UFC fighter Cheick Kongo (17-7) against Bellator and Strikeforce veteran “The Savage” Shawn Jordan (13-3).
At First Glance: Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan will lock horns in the cage after former PRIDE and UFC heavyweight king “Minotauro” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria (33-7) couldn’t recover from injury in time for his bout against Kongo. Jordan himself is a threat to any man that stands in front of him; with nine (T)KOs and three submissions in his victory column, he is a man to be respected. That same respect can go to Kongo with his seasoned UFC career including ten (T)KOs thanks largely to a dominating kickboxing skill set. This bout could easily be “Fight of the Night”, though more importantly for Jordan will be getting the “W”. Kongo is the heavyweight division’s most well-known gatekeeper and a defeat for Jordan would mean almost certain obscurity battling UFC newcomers for the remainder of his tenure with the promotion.
In Depth: Every time Cheick Kongo steps into the Octagon, fans can expect a war on the feet. The same could be said about Baton Rouge, Louisiana native Shawn Jordan who made his pro debut at Bellator 9 in 2009 and hasn’t looked back. After fighting along the Gulf Coast regional promotions the call to Strikeforce came in 2011 with a UFC debut not long after. Jordan may be a late replacement in the fight against Kongo but this does not mean that the Frenchman can take his opponent lightly. Jordan wields knockout power as well as a solid submission game, and while Kongo’s striking is some of the best in the division his recent bouts have seen him dropped and finished by strikes. Although Kongo has shown that he recovers quickly, Jordan’s ground game will only aid him if he drops the Frenchman to the mat and chases for a finish. Kongo has to keep the distance with his powerful kicks, break Jordan down, and question his gas tank. Jordan will be game to strike with Kongo but if he feels the need to take the fight to the ground then he will do all he can to get his lanky foe to the canvas.
The Wild Card: Kongo earned one of the UFC’s most brilliant comebacks in his bout against “HD” Pat Barry (7-5), but he was seeing stars while he was sending Barry down to the mat for a nap. Jordan can accomplish the same feat if Kongo isn’t careful, however if Kongo believes the same get-up-and-strike game plan will work like he used against Barry he’s in for a rude awaking thanks to the wrestling and ground game of Shawn Jordan.
The Verdict: This fight is pretty even on paper with the slight edge going to Kongo due to his long-time career within the UFC, but Jordan is coming into this fight with a lot to gain by toppling one of the heavyweight division’s most revered strikers. Jordan has the striking game and knockout power to hold his own against Kongo but he will likely go to the ground to steal the rounds if the fight becomes too close. Jordan via Unanimous Decision