The UFC’s first event in Calgary produced mixed results in terms of fights, but the event did set a Scotiabank Saddledome gate record at 4.1 million dollars. Overall, the fights weren’t too shabby either. The preliminary card was one of the most exciting of the year, highlighted by an incredible seven-second knocked from Ryan Jimmo. Unfortunately, everything went south once the main card started as four of the five fights went the distance and needless to say, the fans in attendance and watching at home were not happy.
Canadian fighters went 3-4 on the fight card, but every one of them put up valiant efforts that received thunderous ovations from the crowd.
Catch my post-fight thoughts and analysis for the UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao main card below.
- In the main event of UFC 149, Renan Barao captured the interim bantamweight championship, defeating Urijah Faber by unanimous decision in a fairly one-sided fight. Barao’s striking was too quick, explosive and dynamic for Faber to deal with and that’s why he won every round of the fight on most scorecards. In each five-minute stanza Barao was able to catch Faber with flush strikes, but the durability of “The California Kid” prevented him from ever being in serious enough trouble that he was in danger of getting finished. Overall it was a pretty good interim championship bout, but people were certainly expecting more, a finish in particular. With the win Barao joins Nova Uniao teammate Jose Aldo as a UFC titleholder and is the fourth Brazilian champion on the UFC roster. He will likely face Dominick Cruz next when he is ready to return to action from knee surgery
- There’s no way anyone thought the middleweight contender bout between Tim Boetsch and Hector Lombard was going to play out the way it did. Both men said prior to their co-main event clash that they were going to come out and try to win in spectacular fashion to prove they are a top contender at 185-pounds, that was far from the case. Boetsch slipped by Lombard and earned a split decision for his UFC debut, but it was not the type of performance he or the UFC was looking for. Championship implications were at stake and neither man was able to prove worthy of a title shot, which was disappointing to see. There wasn’t a whole lot of action from either side in the 15-minute contest; Lombard let Boetsch control the octagon for the most part while he looked for counterstrikes. Lombard did have success a few times in the takedown department, but that wasn’t enough to win him the decision in the judge’s eyes. Many fans and media scored the bout for Lombard, and this writer did as well, but honestly it’s hard to complain too much about the decision. It will be interesting to see what the UFC does with Boetsch after the lackluster bout.
- The lone heavyweight bout on the UFC 149 fight card could only be described as a dud. Cheick Kongo took the unanimous decision over Shawn Jordan, but it would be hard to claim he was the winner because he essentially inflicted zero damage and the crowd voiced their displeasure. Kongo and Jordan engaged in a three-round snoozer that took place almost entirely against the cage with the two big men trading position and neither being able to cause any substantial damage to the other. There’s nothing really to say about the fight, it was terrible. The worst of the night. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the UFC place both men on the prelims for their next fight as punishment.
- James Head pulled off the upset of the night as he outworked Brian Ebersole and picked up a split decision win over the gritty veteran. Ebersole was expected to blow through the unheralded Head in the fight, but it didn’t play that way at all. Fighting twice in one month’s time may not have been the best choice for Ebersole; he looked flat and was never able to get any sort of substantial offense attacking going. On the other hand, Head looked outstanding in all areas from his kickboxing to takedown defense. The win over Ebersole does wonders for Head’s career as he picks up a marquee victory over a name opponent. The fact one judge awarded the fight to Ebersole is perplexing, but at least the other two got it correct and the right man walked away with the win. The loss was Ebersole’s first in the UFC and breaks an 11-fight win streak. Look for Ebersole to make his much talked about move down to lightweight after the disappointing effort.
- In the opening fight of the pay-per-view broadcast, Matt Riddle did what he does best, grinding out Chris Clements en route to a third round arm-triangle submission victory. The fight was a back-and-forth battle and surprisingly, Riddle was willing to stand and exchange punches with the heavy-handed Clements at points in the bout. The stand up exchanges were where Clements was able to keep the bout was most competitive. However, the lackadaisical takedown and grappling defense of the Canadian was his downfall, and that’s where Riddle was able to take advantage and lock in the submission. The finish was quite unique as Riddle was able to lock in the choke from a standing position, trip his opponent to the ground with a leg sweep and force Clements to tap out moments later.