Urijah Faber (26-5) vs. Renan Barao (30-1, 1 NC)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Barao -200, Faber +160
Topping the UFC 149 card on Saturday night in Calgary, two elite 5-foot-6 bantamweights take the Octagon for a bout between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao.
Barao takes the spot on this card in place of Dominick Cruz, who would have fought for the third time against Faber. But Barao is no chump, the winner of all of his career fights but his first, including his past three, which have been UFC promoted. The Brazilian has also proven to be dangerous at winning via submission, where he has come out on top 13 career times. Faber, though, is coming off a title eliminator fight against Brian Bowles in which he won with a guillotine choke, following a bout against Cruz in which the pair went five rounds, giving Cruz a decision win. Ultimately, while Barao is climbing his way up within this division, he hasn’t beaten close to the class of fighters that Faber has. And Faber’s multi-faceted attack, that could give him a submission win or a TKO, figures to give him the edge in this one.
Faber, nicknamed “The California Kid” first fought Cruz in 2007, when Faber earned a victory in what would be the third of six successful defenses of his WEC featherweight title. But Cruz got the best of him the last time they fought, handing Faber his fourth straight title defeat in four years. The 33-year-old Faber’s submission skills are superb, as are his abilities to take an opponent down, but what may separate him from Barao is the speed and precision he demonstrates with his hands and feet to tactically put him in a position to succeed.
Significant hype surrounds Barao in this matchup, considering he hasn’t lost in 31 straight fights (30 wins, 1 no-contest). Of his most recent wins, he has either outlasted his opponent or won via submission—in UFC he has one submission in three fights, while he has five in his past eight overall. His decision win over Scott Jorgensen was big in his last fight in February, establishing himself as a legitimate contender. But his one-dimensional submission approach may not be able to keep up with a fighter as technically advanced as Faber.
Hector Lombard (31-2-1) vs. Tim Boetsch (15-4)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Lombard -270, Boetsch +210
Hector Lombard will make his UFC debut as a heavy favorite on the UFC 149 card in a middleweight bout against Tim Boetsch.
As the Bellator middleweight champ, Lombard has made noise in MMA and could have the chance to face Anderson Silva at some point if he can be convincing enough in his victories. But Boetsch has experience fighting in the Octagon where he is 4-1, including three straight wins since he switched to fighting as a middleweight. Those victories have been increasingly impressive, with the last one a TKO over Yushin Okami. Lombard certainly has destructive power that can give him a knockout at any time, but at 5-foot-9 he cedes three inches to Boetsch in this fight. Boetsch also has a reach advantage of 2-to-3 inches, giving him a greater chance to earn a knockout or submission of his own.
Lombard has seemingly fought everywhere but UFC, but has not stepped in the Octagon since November of 2011. That’s a significant span of eight months, with rust potentially playing a factor in any high-level MMA fight. Still, with Lombard’s combination of Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, boxing and judo, he is understandably the chalk in this one.
The 31-year-old Boetsch is called “The Barbarian” for good reason—he is an aggressive wrestler who has the brute strength to beat any opponent. He also does not go down easily; his wild fighting style lends to taking some punishing hits, but his chin lets him fight on without going down.
Cheick Kongo (27-7-2) vs. Shawn Jordan (13-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Pick ‘em
Cheick Kongo will look to bounce back from a loss in Saturday’s heavyweight battle at UFC 149 when he faces Shawn Jordan, who is looking for his third consecutive win.
Jordan fought in his first UFC bout his last time out, earning an impressive 2nd-round TKO against Oli Thompson. Kongo, by contrast, is a UFC veteran, as this will be his 17th UFC bout, where he carries a record of 10-5-1. Jordan was slightly favored in this bout, but the lines are currently even at -115 for each fighter. Before his win over Thompson, Jordan earned a submission win over the talented Lavar Johnson last September in Strikeforce. Meanwhile, Kongo has far more experience taking on elite fighters in this division. In a bout that figures to either end in a knockout or decision, Kongo’s experience beating names such as Matt Mitrione and Pat Barry (both in 2011) should pay dividends. And when Kongo has lost, it has often been to top-notch fighters like Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez. That experience will give him the edge against a foe who needs more seasoning before he deserves to be deemed an equal in a bout like this.
Kongo is 3-1-1 in his past five fights, earning a decision, TKO and submission win. But the 6-foot-4 heavyweight most regularly wins via knockout, by which the majority of his career victories have come. The 37-year-old Kongo is a powerful striker and an effective kickboxer, but also uses his massive size to take down his foes as a Greco Roman wrestler. For both of those tactics, his four-inch height advantage could be the key to victory on Saturday night.
Kongo may have the height advantage in this one, but Jordan will look to use his smaller frame to help him this one with a thicker (260 pounds, 20 more than Kongo) and more athletic build. “The Savage” Jordan is a deadly striker, with nine of his 13 career wins coming via knockout. The former LSU running back can also engage Kongo in a ground battle, but both of these big men will trade their fair share of punches.
UFC 149 Betting Odds & Fight Card
UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship
Urijah Faber +160
Renan Barao -200
Tim Boetsch +275
Hector Lombard -345
Cheick Kongo +110
Shawn Jordan -140
James Head +285
Brian Ebersole -355
Matt Riddle -150
Chris Clements +120
Nick Ring -120
Court McGee -110
Roland Delorme +107
Francisco Rivera -137
Light Heavyweight Bout
Anthony Perosh +140
Ryan Jimmo -170
Bryan Caraway -200
Mitch Gagnon +160
Antonio Carvalho +180
Daniel Pineda -220
Mitch Clarke +130
Anton Kuivanen -160
Cole started off as a part time handicapper and a full time computer programmer. After developing a computer program that consistently provided winners in NFL, NBA, MLB, and college sports Cole went into full time handicapping. The computer program and his knack for winners made him a rising star in the handicapping world. His complex computer program based on algorithms and analytical calculations have led to a 60% ATS rate.