Every time UFC puts on an event, speculation, questions and theories arise about which fighters will perform, or under perform. Will new contenders emerge? Will established ones fall? Where will the winners go? Which losers will still have a job on Monday? Who is healthy? Who is fighting injured? Anytime the UFC athletes are set to enter the octagon, questions follow.
That being said, here are four burning questions going into UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao.
4. Can Shawn Jordan Pass The Cheick Kongo Test?
In the UFC heavyweight division, Cheick Kongo can be undoubtedly defined as gatekeeper and is the measuring stick of how good a fighter can truly be. Kongo has only lost to elite heavyweights in the last four years of his 17-fight UFC career. On Saturday night, unheralded one-fight UFC veteran Shawn Jordan will take his shot at Kongo in hopes of catapulting himself up the heavyweight ladder.
Jordan is a powerful striker that is capable of ending a fight in one punch, as displayed in his second-round TKO victory over Oli Thompson in his UFC debut last March. Jordan is not just a striker though, he has solid grappling abilities and can take a fight by submission if needed. Since he is such an unknown and has not faced top competition, it is hard to tell how good the Greg Jackson trained fighter can really be. On Saturday night Shawn Jordan will take the Cheick Kongo test, is he good enough to pass it?
3. Can Brian Ebersole Win Two Fights In One Month?
Stepping in for the injured Claude Patrick against James Head on just 17-days notice, welterweight veteran Brian Ebersole will look to do the unthinkable by winning two UFC fights in the span of 29 days. You may remember seeing Ebersole in the octagon just a few weeks ago, winning a unanimous decision against TJ Waldburger at UFC on FX 3. While Ebersole was dropped in the fight and absorbed some damage against Waldburger, he was not medically suspended and was able to turn around and take another fight shortly after.
In recent UFC history, three men have attempted to complete a similar feat to Ebersole. In 2010, Chris Leben had a 14-day turnaround when he defeated Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama. The second case was Lavar Johnson who beat Pat Barry and proceeded to fight Stefan Struve 21-days later. Although Johnson lost his short notice fight, he did not show the effects of an overworked fighter. The third example was Dustin Pague, a bantamweight fighter who fought twice in 14 days. Pague went 1-1 in those two fights and like Johnson, did not show the effects of fighting back-to-back.
It’s very hard to predict what type of Ebersole we will see on Saturday night. With so little time to train, most of Ebersole’s preparation for the fight will be mental. If he can get past the fact he just had a fight on June 20 and put the physical stress of the short turnaround to the side, he has a very good chance of winning once again.
2. How Will Renan Barao Handle The Leap In Competition?
Renan Barao may be 3-0 in the UFC, but the Brazilian hasn’t exactly fought the cream of the crop in the UFC bantamweight division. Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett, two fighters Barao holds UFC wins over, have not exact been the most consistent of fighters as of late, which makes you question the quality of opposition Barao has been facing.
Barao brings his outstanding 30-1 professional MMA record back to the octagon to face Faber in a main event for the interim bantamweight championship. Training out of team Nova Uniao in Brazil, alongside great fighters such as UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Barao is a highly talented competitor who can both knock out and submit his opponents.
The 25-year-old now goes from fighting middle-of-the-pack 135-pounders to Urijah Faber, a man that has been ranked in the top-5 of the featherweight and bantamweight divisions for what seems like an eternity. Facing Faber is a stern leap in competition for Barao, but one he appears to be more than ready for. However, appearing ready is one thing – performing on the fight night is an entirely different animal.
1. Is Hector Lombard A Top-10 Middleweight?
After a long career of fighting in Japan and all around the world, Hector Lombard makes his long-awaited debut in the UFC octagon when he takes on Tim Boetsch in the co-main event at UFC 149. The Cuban has a world of talent, but has never had a chance to win a championship in a major organization. Lombard is currently in the midst of a 25-fight unbeaten streak that includes wins over James Te Huna, Brian Ebersole and Joe Doerksen. The 34-year-old is one of the most powerful strikers in the division as 17 of his 31 career wins have come by (T)KO.
The fight on Saturday night will arguably be the toughest test of Lombard’s career. Boetsch is no slouch for a UFC debut, especially for a fighter who has not fought since Nov. 2011. Boetsch is considered by most to be a top-10 middleweight fighter after his last win over Yushin Okami, but Lombard has not had the chance to prove he is the same caliber since he has been fighting outside of the UFC.
The dangerous striker has been told that an impressive win at UFC 149 could earn him a middleweight title shot. If he can finish Boetsch in highlight reel fashion, not only would Lombard prove he is a top-10 middleweight, but he would also prove is a threat to Anderson Silva’s middleweight crown.
This article was written by Mike Bohn, founder and lead writer of FightCove.com. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @FightCoveMike. Also, be sure to follow @FightCove on Twitter and “Like” Fight Cove on Facebook.