This is the most changed fight card in UFC history (that I can remember), but despite many fans’ complaints, I am just as excited about it as when it was first announced.
Originally Aldo was supposed to defend his title against Koch, but due to the same injury epidemic that changed several fights on the 148 card, the featherweight title bout is out and replaced by the bantamweight interim title instead (another contest that was effected by Dominick Cruz’s injury).
Once more, here’s how I see it going down:
Faber vs Barao
Renan Barao has exploded onto the MMA scene in the last six months or so particularly after his astonishing first round finish of Brad Pickett in Birmingham last year. He followed this up with a convincing, but less impressive, win over Scott Jorgensen earlier this year and now, with the longest winning streak in MMA, deservedly has his shot at the interim bantamweight belt.
Urijah Faber has been at the top of this bantamweight division since dropping down to 135lbs and was expecting to face Cruz for the third time. Barao poses a similar threat on the feet, although his striking is probably more precise and powerful than Cruz’s unorthodox technique.
Impressively, against Jorgensen, Barao was able to nullify the wrestling attack and keep the fight on the feet with fantastic takedown defence. He will need this to be on top form against Faber whose wrestling will be his advantage in this fight.
I see a decision in this fight, and I see Barao winning it by being able to defend the majority of Faber’s takedowns and if he does land on his back, I predict his BJJ will be good enough to bounce straight back up. On the feet I imagine Barao will be too rangy and technical for Faber to compete. Both men have finishing ability, but I see Barao’s superiority in speed and technique on his feet meaning he takes the unanimous decision.
Barao bts. Faber via decision
Lombard vs Boetsch
Many of UFC fans, including me, have been waiting years for the arrival of Hector Lombard into the UFC’s middleweight division. Finally he arrives, originally to fight Brian Stann, but now against Tim ‘The Barbarian’ Boetsch.
The Barbarian is on a tear since dropping down into the middleweight division, including a sensational third round comeback KO of Okami in Japan. However, Yushin ‘Thunder’ Okami seemed to trip on the edge of the cage allowing Boetsch the chance to pounce, a chance he well and truly took.
I don’t see him getting the same chance against Lombard here, who has a vast experience advantage, just as much (if not more) power, and world-class judo. I see Lombard troubling Boetsch in round 1 and finishing the fight in the second
Lombard bts. Boetsch via TKO
Kongo vs Jordan
Cheick Kongo was originally slated to fight Big Nog here, a fight I would really love to see. Instead he fights Shawn Jordan, which still poses as an exciting bout. The only Kongo fight I can remember that wasn’t exciting was against Matt Mitrione where neither fighter came to fight.
Jordan KO’d Oli Thompson in his last fight and submitted the incredibly powerful Lavar Johnson. He managed to get passed the hands of Johnson, so here I think he’ll be able to do the same to Kongo. On the feet I think the two are closely matched, both powerful, both durable. I give the wrestling and jiu-jitsu advantage to Jordan however, so if he finds himself in trouble on the feet he has the option of wrestling Kongo, something Kongo does not have.
Therefore I see a Jordan extending his winning streak to three with a TKO win, that’s not to say I’m counting Kongo out though, and there’s always a chance it’s a repeat of Kongo vs Mitrione and it goes to a dull decision.
Jordan bts. Kongo via TKO
Ebersole vs Head
Brian Ebersole is on an impressive four fight win streak since joining the UFC in 2011 and has faced tougher competition in each of his previous bouts than James Head. He stopped veteran Hallman and got passed the jiu-jitsu of Waldburger so won’t have a problem with the ground game against Head and the Australian has always looked relaxed and in control on the feet, with the exception of a right straight that wobbled him against Waldburger, that he recovered from quickly.
Ebersole will simply have too much experience over Head in this and I predict a submission or TKO in Ebersole’s incredible 67th bout.
Ebersole bts. Head via sub
Clements vs Riddle
All evidence suggests this will be a brawl. Yet another bout changed through injury, but again, replaced by a less high profile, but just as potentially exciting pairing. Chris Clements has 10 of his 11 wins via TKO or KO and Matt Riddle showed against Henry Martinez the more blood he spills, the better he gets.
Clements will come out strong in the first and mark up Riddle. If Riddle makes it through the first, which I think he will, he’ll come out stronger in the second and third but I see Clements’ kickboxing being superior, frustrating Riddle and walking away with a close decision.
Clements bts. Riddle via decision
McGee vs Ring
I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I can’t say I’m going to be on the edge of my seat for this fight. COurt McGee is tough and durable, and Nick Ring much the same with neither being knocked out. I foresee a lot of this fight taking place against the cage, with Ring having his back to it.
McGee bts. Ring via decision
Delorme vs Rivera
Roland Delorme just survived long enough against Nick Denis in his last fight to manage a shock submission come back. Francisco Rivera has more power and speed than Denis and will capitalise on Delorme’s suspect chin and avoid his submission game.
Rivera bts. Delorme via TKO
Jimmo vs Perosh
Ryan Jimmo debuts in the UFC against Anthony Perosh who’s looked very promising since joining the company. I give Jimmo the edge on the feet between the two men, but Perosh a significant advantage on the ground. Perosh takes Jimmo down and gets a TKO or submission win in the first two rounds.
Perosh bts. Jimmo via submission
Caraway vs Gagnon
Mitch Gagnon dominates the stand up and prevents Brian Caraway’s wrestling offence. He rocks Caraway and finishes with ground and pound or a submission.
Gagnon bts. Caraway via TKO
Carvalho vs Pineda
Daniel Pineda’s transitional jiu-jitsu looked great against Matt Brown in his last fight and he should be able to be strong enough all round to win a decision against an unimposing Antonio Carvalho.
Pineda bts. Carvalho via decision
Clarke vs Kuivanen
This is a striker versus wrestler match-up, and I give the advantage here to Mitch Clarke, the wrestler. He’s got a good record of submissions and I think he’ll be able to take Anton Kuivanen down and keep him on his back. I see a close decision here, and I predict Clarke will edge it.
Clarke bts. Kuivanen via decision