Unbeaten Streaks On Line At UFC 149
By: Matty Simo
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Two of the longest current unbeaten streaks in MMA will be on the line this Saturday at UFC 149 when Renan Barao takes on Urijah Faber for the interim bantamweight title and Hector Lombard battles Tim Boetsch in a key middleweight matchup.
Barao-Faber and Lombard-Boetsch top a main card of five fights that will be broadcast on Pay-Per-View from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta starting at 10:00 p.m. (ET). Four preliminary bouts will be televised on FX starting at 8:00 p.m. with two more kicking off the night’s action at 7:00 p.m. on Facebook.
The main event will see Barao (28-1-1) try to run his unbeaten streak to 30 and improve to 6-0 in the UFC and WEC, which was absorbed by the organization in 2010. The 25-year-old Brazilian has been impressive in his three UFC fights, earning unanimous decisions against Cole Escovedo at UFC 130 and Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143 and submitting Brad Pickett via rear-naked choke in the first round at UFC 138.
Barao is is the pronounced favorite for this bout which should be his toughest to date, and priced as high as -200.
Faber (26-5) is the more experienced of the two fighters and was originally expected to face bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz for the third time at UFC 148 after they both served as coaches on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. But Cruz tore his ACL and was forced to withdraw, giving UFC president Dana White the power to select Faber’s new opponent.
A +175 underdog for Saturday's fight, Faber had a personal rivalry with Cruz going back to their WEC days, as they had split their previous two bouts. The announcement of Barao as Faber’s opponent seemed to disappoint him, and many MMA experts believe this could be a more difficult matchup.
In the co-main event, Lombard (31-2-1) will look to extend his unbeaten streak to 26 after going 24-0-1 in his previous 25. The 34-year-old Cuban is viewed as a potential challenger for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva down the road, but he has not really been tested against elite opponents. Lombard has spent most of the past five years fighting between Bellator and the Cage Fighting Championship, winning middleweight titles in each.
He was expected to make his UFC debut at UFC 78 but had visa issues that sidetracked his career. Now Lombard will finally enter the UFC Octagon as a heavy favorite, currently as high as -370.
Boetsch (15-4) is a rising middleweight contender who has won three straight fights and seven of eight. The 31-year-old Maine native was originally slated to meet Michael Bisping, who also suffered a knee injury and had to pull out. Boetsch (+310) is coming off an impressive third-round TKO of Yushin Okami at UFC 144, and his only loss in the last three years came against Phil Davis via kimura submission in the second round at UFC 123.