This weekend’s UFC 149 event marks the organization’s first trip to Calgary, Canada. The event has suffered a lot of change as fighter injuries and other circumstances caused a great deal of change in the card. The event now features a main event for the interim bantamweight title between popular american Urijah Faber and fast rising Brazilian Renan Barao.
Interestingly, despite his much wider name recognition, Faber is the underdog heading into the bout at +155, while Barao is favored almost 2-1 at -185. Let’s take a look at the matchup now that the fight is almost upon us.
There are good reasons for Barao to be the favorite going in, not the least of which is youth. Both men are veterans of roughly 30 fights, but Barao is still just 25 years old, while Faber is now a gritty veteran of 33. The first thing that goes is the explosion of speed and reflexes in an athlete, and Faber’s style is at least partially dependent on speed.
One potential advantage for Faber is that it is a five round fight, as Faber has always been well conditioned and would seem better suited to last the extra 2 rounds. Barao is in his first full length five rounder. Should the match go the distance, it may not be so much to Faber’s advantage however.
The bottom line is that Faber has lost every time he has gone the five round distance. I suspect in the early going of this fight, that Faber is going to have to blow a lot of energy, which may lead to fatigue and sloppiness in the last two rounds. He also has broken his hands in longer fights, and though he keeps on fighting, they tend to hamper him on the scorecards.
Barao has to manage his energy – an early adrenalin dump or a balls out attempt to finish the fight early that fails could both leave Barao drained, however I don’t think that will be the case. I think we will see a first round a lot like the Jose Aldo-Chad Mendes fight, with Barao sitting back and waiting for Faber’s push.
The added motivation of facing true UFC Bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz next for the title sits there for both men. For Faber, that match will happen, as it will be the third in the trilogy, so even if he loses, expect to see him in the ring with Cruz at some point down the line.
But for Barao, this match signals him entering the big time. The fact that Cruz is next will be a big motivator for the Brazilian as well, as all the hard work of 30 fights is finally going to start to pay off.
I see Barao taking this one, via stoppage in the middle rounds (2-4).