By Anthony Springer Jr.
When life gives you lemons, as the cliché goes, you make lemonade. In the case of the UFC, when training takes down one of your headliners, make a new main event.
And so it is with this weekend’s UFC 149, whose main event showdown for the interim bantamweight title between perennial championship contender Urijah Faber and Renan Barao is the result of not one, but two injuries.
Faber was slated to meet Dominick Cruz at UFC 148, but that bout was scrapped when Cruz when down with an injury. When featherweight champion Jose Aldo (original headliner for tomorrow) went down, Faber-Barao was shuffled to 149.
The 135-pound division is thin and though Faber will always hover near the top of the heap due to his skill, this is getting to be nothing short of ridiculous. “The California Kid” is 5-5 in his last ten; 5-0 when it matters and 0-5 when it matters most. Undefeated in number one contender bouts, 0-5 when he’s gotten a shot at the gold.
Tomorrow will likely be no different. Renan Barao (think “linen,” but with an “H”) is a monster at 135-pounds. He boasts an amazing 26-1(1) record. The lone loss? His first professional fight. In 2005. And he trains with Jose Aldo, the man who handed Faber a vicious five round beating in the now-defunct WEC’s first and only pay-per-view.
Faber’s played on the big stage before, so if there’s any advantage the California fighter will hold, it’ll be experience in big time fights. Stylistically speaking, Barao is a much better matchup than Cruz, whose run and gun style racks up points instead of flashy finishes. In Barao, Faber will find a buzz saw from the opening bell, which plays to powerful counter punch.
You can flip a coin because this bout—on paper—is about as close to 50-50 as one can get.
Unless Faber can catch Barao clean on a counter strike (Barao can take a punch), it’s going to be a long, brutal night for “The California Kid.”
Watch for Renan Barao to play the role of spoiler, ruining a big money trilogy bout between Faber and Cruz.
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Coming up next: UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao is LIVE on Pay-Per-View Saturday, July 21 at 7 PM PT/10 PM ET from Calgary, Alberta. For more info on UFC 149 or the UFC, visit www.UFC.com