UFC 149 Faber vs. Barao: Wrestling Observer Picks & Preview



UFC 149


Compiled by Josh Nason


A hectic MMA schedule wraps this Saturday with UFC 149, one of the most injury-riddled, repaired and ripped apart UFC cards in company history. Regardless, there are several important fights that will have implications on future title fights -- including the next challenger for 185-pound kingpin Anderson Silva.

Our panel:

- Dave Meltzer (63-30): Wrestling Observer founder & writer

- Todd Martin (56-37): Weekly FFD guest & RAW recapper | LA Times | Sherdog

- Mike Sempervive (54-39): Wrestling Observer Live | Big Audio Nightmare

- Mike Sawyer (60-33) of Tough Talk

- Oliver Copp (57-31) of Tough Talk

- Josh Nason (57-36):
FFD guest | FIGHT! Magazine | Bloody Elbow

B. Bryan Alvarez (17-12) is on a hunt for Bigfoot and didn't submit picks. Seriously.

*****

Interim 135-pound title: Urijah Faber (26-5) vs. Renan Barao (28-1-0-1)

Faber gets a shot to break a three fight winless streak in title opportunities, getting his second crack at the 135-pound gold. He battles the younger Barao, the owner of a 29-fight unbeaten streak.

While the vast majority were outside the UFC, the 25-year-old is 5-0 in Zuffa-owned promotions. Faber is coming off a November submission win over Brian Bowles, while Barao decisioned Scott Jorgensen in February.

Fun fact: Faber has never been submitted, while Barao has tapout wins in three of his last five.

Barao: Nason, Martin, Sawyer, Sempervive, Copp, Meltzer

Hector Lombard (31-2-0-1) vs. Tim Boetsch (15-4)

The 34-year-old Lombard makes his UFC debut after a long stretch in Bellator and Australian regional promotions, riding a 25-fight unbeaten streak. But he gets a tough draw in veteran Boestch, who has won three straight including a come-from-behind TKO win over Yushin Okami in February.

The big question: will the level of competition catch up to Lombard and will he suffer 'Octagon shock'? The last time Boestch was beaten by T/KO: April 2008, a 10-fight streak.

Lombard:
Martin, Sawyer, Sempervive, Meltzer
Boestch: Nason, Copp

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


At 37, Kongo is a gatekeeper in the heavyweight division and gets Jordan instead of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira due to injury. Before dropping a first round TKO loss to Mark Hunt in February, he was 3-0-1 in his last four.

10 years his junior, Thompson made his UFC debut by beating Oli Thompson by 2nd round T/KO in March. Before that, he submitted Lavar Johnson in a September 2011 Strikeforce fight. Rising star?

Kongo: Nason, Martin, Sempervive, Meltzer
Jordan: Sawyer, Copp

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

This isn't an error. Ebersole is fighting again, one month after downing T.J. Walduburger at a UFC on FX event. He looks for his 12th straight win and fifth straight Octagon victory. Head is 1-1 in the UFC, last submitting Papy Abedi in April.

A win by Ebersole has to earn him a top welterweight, right?

Ebersole: Nason, Martin, Sawyer, Sempervive, Copp, Meltzer

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

In the 'We're paying for this fight?' bout of the night, Clements looks for his sixth straight win. The Canadian made his UFC debut in April with a split decision win over Keith Wisniewski.

He was supposed to fight Thiago Alves and then Siyar Bahadurzada, but both men got hurt. Riddle has competed in the UFC his entire career, but is 1-2 in his last three fights.

Clements: Nason, Sempervive
Riddle: Martin, Sawyer, Copp, Meltzer

Dave kicks off the play-by-play with the Facebook prelims in the afternoon and joins guest host Sempervive late night for another special edition of Wrestling Observer Radio.