Like Lombard, UFC 149 a dud
Well that wasn't much fun.
I haven't conducted a scientific poll, but I'm just going to say this like it's fact: No one enjoyed UFC 149, the odds-on favorite for worst Zuffa card of 2012. All of the evening's mojo was spent by the close of prelims, where four of the six contests ended violently, and both decisions were compelling, competitive fights.
Then the pay-per-view hit, and after Matt Riddle fired off a bit of submission magic against Chris Clements, that was all she wrote.
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James Head and Brian Ebersole, well I'm not sure what they did. Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan didn't do much of anything, that I'm sure of. And middleweights Tim Boetsch and Hector Lombard didn't do nearly enough.
Even an eager and generally polite Canadian throng couldn't keep from booing.
Zuffa deserves a pass because of the massive injury list this card piled up. The finished product looked nothing like the intended version. Fights had to be made and so they were.
The best part of UFC 149 is that it will quickly be forgotten.
For the first time in a while, no A's on the report card:
UFC 149 grades
I liked what Renan Barao (29-1) did versus Urijah Faber. It was smart, put him in the best position to win and gave the 25-year-old Brazilian control for the vast majority of the fight. This is the sort of victory that should help Barao as he moves forward. He went five rounds for the first time, dealt with a very difficult fighter to put away, and handled the pressure of a title-fight dress rehearsal. Barao missed the mark in that he didn't go after Faber, either systematically or in one fell swoop.
There's a lot to like about this Matthew Riddle kid. He's big and strong, a quality grappler and a tad wild -- and on Saturday, he finished a great sequence by arm-triangle choke. Riddle, 26, caught Clements at the end of a spinning backfist, locked in head and arm control, executed a sweet trip, and locked in the choke. We'll see what Riddle (7-3) can bring against better competition, but I don't think there's any question his confidence is up, and it should be.
"The California Kid" always shows up prepared to fight. He's a pro in every sense. But he's also 33 now, and 5-5 in his last 10 fights. Faber again suffered from a reach disadvantage, which was doubly obvious against someone as clean and technical as Barao. Since Faber can't seem to wrestle much these days, he's left relying on speed and movement to connect on punches. And at times against Barao, especially in the third round, Faber (26-6) showed what he could do in rhythm. But these were mere moments of success against a younger, faster, stronger, more technical fighter. Could it be that Faber's days as a top contender have come to a close?
James Head shut down Brian Ebersole's wrestling attack and landed enough hard shots that the judges awarded him the win. He kept things tight against a wild opponent, picked his spots, and remained poised in the midst of some strange tactics. I think he has his work cut out for him against the next level of 170-pounders.
Chris Clements (11-5) stuck around against Riddle and showed some positive flashes, but for the most part he was outworked and on the defensive. The Canadian doesn't look like much more than an average welterweight, certainly not one capable of beating anyone who can grapple and fight with a higher output than he does.
What a weird performance -- possibly the worst outcome possible for the former Bellator champion. Hector Lombard, 34, was flat-footed, listless, predictable and a bunch of other things a fighter never wants to be described as. I certainly wasn't surprised he didn't mimic Mike Tyson. Yet this was as bad as he's been (some credit goes to Boetsch for being a live opponent), and that was unexpected. I'd like to see Lombard (31-3-1) at least try to make the most of his next chance. He wants Mark Munoz. Give him Mark Munoz.
So much for pressuring Lombard. "The Barbarian" remained conservative against a guy who couldn't muster any sort of attack, and in the eyes of many people it should have cost him the fight. I scored it for Lombard, barely, but I get why the majority had two rounds for Tim Boetsch (16-4). The result is most important here, because it leaves the 31-year-old middleweight as an option for Anderson Silva. Before that can happen, he'll need to nurse a broken foot.
Who knows what was going on with Brian Ebersole. He appeared significantly smaller than Head, which makes sense since the move to 155 pounds is under way, but still, Ebersole was capable of scoring. Yet as the fight progressed, his continued takedown failures changed the fight. Head did well in spots, but it was almost like Ebersole let him off easy during his first loss in 11 fights (and his first in the Octagon).
Cheick Kongo (18-7) did what he does to beat Shawn Jordan, but the Roman statue of a fighter wasn't all that great in the process. Though Kongo, 37, continues to make silly errors on the floor, he has shown an improved ability to straight wrestle. He owned Jordan with leverage and, yes, technique. That's about all there is to say about a pretty poor fight.
I think I heard this right -- if not, I apologize to Joe Rogan in advance -- but did he say Shawn Jordan, 27, might be the strongest person ever to fight in the UFC? That's quite the claim. Jordan's power was made out to be something comic, yet he couldn't do a thing against Kongo. Jordan (13-4) has a long way to go in the skills department (i.e., all of them), but I suspect he will get a chance to show what he's capable of.
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