The UFC flopped completely for the first time in a long time as UFC 149′s Pay-Per-View card disappointed in a very big way. After a knockout-riddled, fast paced, and exciting preliminary card, the main card brought on a chorus of boos from the normally respectful Calgary crowd that perfectly harmonized with the internet rage buzzing on Twitter and other forum boards. Renan Barao (29-1) captured bantamweight gold against “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (26-6) in a solid main event that wasn’t enough to excuse the night before it. “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (16-4) snapped “Shango” Hector Lombard’s (31-3-1) long-standing winning streak in a contestable and contemptible Split Decision. Cheick Kongo (18-7-2) clinched his way to a victory over “The Savage” Shawn Jordan (13-4) that drew the ire of Dana White. “Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (50-15-1) saw his winning streak shattered in a narrow Split Decision loss to James Head (9-2) that was also a subject of fan wrath, and “Deep Waters” Matt Riddle (7-3) impressed in the only main card bout that delivered as promised when he locked a third-round submission against “The Menace” Chris Clements (11-5). The prelims were good, the main card was bad, the fans were downright ugly, but here’s how the fighters themselves made out.
Renan Barao: The new Interim Bantamweight Champion put a steady, one-sided beating on the former WEC featherweight kingpin, breaking his rib in the first round with a powerful knee and throwing over 290 total strikes and connecting with 85 significant blows. He controlled the distance, proved difficult to take down, blasted away with leg kicks and straight punches, and otherwise dominated the five-round affair. Barao’s lack of power made the rounds appear much closer than they actually were, but he still took a lopsided sweep of the judges’ cards and walked out with a shiny new belt.
Matt Riddle: Matt Riddle’s bout with Chris Clements opened the main card in much the same way the prelims introduced it. The two fought hard and pushed the action the entire time they were in the cage, but Matt Riddle’s wrestling was too much for the Canadian. Riddle was able to negate Clements’ aggressive striking with solid takedown abilities and leg wrestling against the cage and eventually secured a “Submission of the Night” winning Arm-Triangle Choke in the third to earn an impressive seventh Octagon victory.
Every Prelim Fighter: The main card failed miserably to impress, leaving Dana White and the majority of MMA fans around the world thoroughly irritated. The preliminary card, however, may have been the only thing that kept the Calgary crowd from flooding the streets and destroying public property as their Montreal brethren did when Guns N’ Roses left them wanting. Three first-round knockouts, one of which tied the UFC record, a submission, and a “Fight of the Night” winning bout all helped make the prelims a silver lining to the UFC 149 cloud.
Urijah Faber: While Urijah Faber’s bout with Renan Barao would have been far better received had the bouts leading up to it not fallen flat, it does little to change the fact that Faber has entered the twilight of his career as a championship level fighter at 135 or 145. Much like former welterweight ruler Matt Hughes (45-9), a combination of injuries sustained over a long career and a love for testing his stand-up prowess has caused Faber to lose either the ability or the will to do what made him great: wrestle. Unless Faber can bring back the power double and suffocating top control that won him his titles, he will never beat the elite strikers that rule the smaller weight classes.
Tim Boetsch: “The Barbarian” won a very narrow Split Decision over debuting Bellator and CFC champion Hector Lombard, but it wasn’t pretty. He won by staying on the outside but always moving forward and keeping Lombard away with teep kicks. He failed on every one of his takedown attempts and really won only because Lombard did almost nothing over the course of three rounds. Only 80 combined significant strikes were landed by the two combatants and while Boetsch’s middleweight winning streak is still alive, the hype surrounding both men is now quite dead.
James Head: Few expected any fireworks between James Head and toughened grind artist Brian Ebersole, but a bout that went three full rounds and saw only two successful takedowns, one submission attempt, and just 212 total strikes thrown only around half of which landed is a waste of PPV buyer money. Head outlasted Ebersole and squeezed out a second straight UFC win, but it wasn’t a bout that will earn him any fans or support within the Zuffa organization.
Brian Ebersole: Ebersole’s was the first of the two long-standing winning streaks that came to an end at UFC 149. The notoriously slow starting “Bad Boy” simply couldn’t ramp up the heat fast enough to make up for a terrible first round and eventually lost in a Split Decision. Coupled with his grinding, less-than-exciting style, the loss will likely see Ebersole become the poor man’s Jon Fitch (23-4-1), continually stringing together wins but never breaking into the next level.
Chris Clements: Clements had his main card debut spoiled by Matt Riddle. His high octane striking game was completely negated by Riddle’s wrestling. He put out a good effort and was part of the only main card bout seen in a favorable light, but the fact that he couldn’t handle the mediocre wrestling of Matt Riddle proves that Clements has no chance of succeeding in either the welter- or lightweight divisions of the UFC at this point in his career.
Hector Lombard: It is hard to imagine a more disappointing Octagon debut than Hector Lombard’s. While several hardcore MMA fans saw their elitist views destroyed when big name PRIDE fighters, especially the lighter weight kingpins, got destroyed by mid-tier UFC talent, it still hurt less than “Shango’s” do-nothing loss to Tim Boetsch. Lombard was clearly the superior fighter. He was stronger despite the vast size difference. He was faster. He was better at every aspect of the game. He just never pulled the trigger. Hector Lombard stood in front of “The Barbarian” and let him take pot shots for three rounds and despite a few flashes of brilliance, Lombard gift wrapped Boetsch a win and killed the hype surrounding his debut.
Cheick Kongo: Dana White gave Kongo a bit of a free pass and blamed the referee for the deafening boredom of the anchor bout of the evening. The fans however, are more likely to agree with Dana’s post-fight comment that “This isn’t the Ultimate Clinching Championship”. The French kickboxer threw only 84 total strikes and most of those were on the break from a clinch and used primarily as a means to reengage said clinch. He won, and Dana speculated that he had an off-night, but the fans are less forgiving and Kongo will need an exciting performance in his next outing to make up for it.
Shawn Jordan: Dana White said that the officials will be the death of combat sports in reference to the referee’s reluctance to break up Jordan and Kongo’s clinch war. However, some blame must fall on the fighters as they were the ones who repeatedly reengaged the clinch at every opportunity. Leading the charge in the fence leaning contest was Jordan who consistently clinched to seek the takedown only to end up leaning against the cage with a hand on the mat to avoid knees to the head. The LSU alum could not have damaged his stock more if he had been the victim of seven-second knock out.
Click here for the full list of UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao results.