One could try to piece together the number of times that UFC 149 has changed since its creation, but that would just be silly. We know that the main event was supposed to be Jose Aldo defending his featherweight title against Erik Koch, but instead there is an interim title fight that was supposed to happen two weeks earlier at UFC 148.

Big names like Michael Bisping, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Thiago Alves, “Big Nog,” Siyar Bahadurzada and even Bibiano Fernandes were at one time expected to grace the Octagon at the event, but due to the tidal wave of injuries—and a failed signing in the case of Fernandes—that have occurred this summer, they won’t be making the trip.

With all of that being said, the UFC did a solid job putting together a fight card that should not disappoint. The main event features Urijah Faber, a fighter who almost single-handedly put the success of the WEC on his shoulders and rode it into fame, taking on Renan Barão, a fighter who holds 28 victories and whose only loss came in his professional MMA debut. Faber has been to the top of the mountain before, holding the WEC featherweight title and challenging for the UFC bantamweight title, whereas this will be Renan Barão’s first crack at gold under a major promotion’s banner.

The evening’s co-main event features the promotion’s biggest recent free agent acquisition as Hector Lombard makes his promotional debut against Tim Boetsch, a fighter who has revitalized his career after dropping to middleweight. Lombard, the former Bellator middleweight champion, has been running through the competition and has not lost a bout since 2006. Many people claim that fighting in lesser promotions is the sole reason for his success, and a true test of this will be the man standing across from him. “The Barbarian” was a middle-of-the-road light heavyweight, but is 3-0 at middleweight including his come-from-behind TKO victory over Yushin Okami at UFC 144.

The evening’s preliminary fights can be seen on Facebook starting at 7 p.m. ET, and then the action will turn over to FX at 8 p.m. ET. From there, it’s off to the pay-per-view for the main card, starting at 10 p.m. ET.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Sal DeRose, Gregory Chase and Brian McKenna break down the main card action along with a quick rundown of predictions for the preliminary card match-ups.

WW: Chris Clements (11-4) vs. Matt Riddle (6-3)

DeRose: From Yoshihiro Akiyama versus Thiago Alves all the way to Chris Clements versus Matt Riddle. How on Earth did that happen?

Clements (R) celebrates (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Anyway, that’s not the point. This makes for a pretty interesting match-up—although not as awesome as the first three incarnations of who was supposed to be fighting in this slot—as Clements is coming off a close win over Keith Wisniewski in his UFC debut.

Riddle is taking this fight on short notice, and I think he could win this fight, but I do think Clements has the better striking and knockout power in his hands. Riddle doesn’t have the best striking defense, to put it nicely, and Clements will connect if given the opportunity.

I think Riddle needs to put Clements on his back and pound away or look for submissions in order to win this fight.

I’ll take Clements by second-round TKO, and on that note, I’ll go see how on Earth Riddle got on the main card.

Chase: Riddle has had his ups and downs, but I think he will do well in this fight. I agree with Sal that Clements’ striking is better, but I don’t know if he has faced competition like Riddle. That being said, even though Riddle will put up a fight, I see Clements getting a TKO victory sometime early on in the fight.

Riddle (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Clements has proven himself with his hands and is riding huge momentum going into this fight. While his UFC debut was a split decision victory, he finished the four fights prior to that. The stand-up war goes to Clements, and I don’t think Riddle will take him down easily. Riddle’s only chance of a finish is to get a submission after finding a way to the ground.

McKenna: The name of the game in this fight is takedown defense. For Clements’ sake, I sure hope he has worked on it because if he hasn’t, it is going to be a long night for him. It is no secret that Riddle’s claim to fame is his ground-and-pound, or what a lot of people may label as lay-and-pray.

While Clements was originally preparing for Siyar Bahadurzada and his stand-up game, I feel as though “The Menace” has had ample time to prepare for Riddle, who again isn’t the most well-rounded fighter in the promotion. As a result, Clements’ camp will have built a solid game plan, and he will make his Canadian audience happy as he earns his first stoppage in the UFC—a second-round knockout.

WW: Brian Ebersole (50-14-1) vs. James Head (8-2)

Chase: I always like seeing Brian Ebersole fight. In this fight, I think it is safe to say the experience goes to him, and he is on a tear right now, riding an 11-fight winning streak.

Ebersole (R) (Heavy MMA)

This is not to dismiss James Head, though. Head has had a back-and-forth past few years, but looked great against Papy Abedi in April. If Head wants to take this fight, he may want to look to take it to the ground. Ebersole has a tendency to succumb to the jiu-jitsu game, but has never been knocked out in his long career.

If anyone is walking home with a KO/TKO victory, I will side with Ebersole, but I think this one might go to a decision, with Ebersole as the victor.

McKenna: Talk about climbing the ladder. Ebersole came into the UFC as a relative unknown and has ripped off four straight victories. Now, he is widely known as a great, grinding fighter who loves to shave big arrows into his chest hair.

But when it comes to the “Bad Boy,” I worry about the fact that he took this fight on too short of a notice. Fans will remember him recently getting rocked in the first round against T.J. Waldburger no more than a month ago. Sure, he was able to survive and take the last two rounds for the victory, but you have to hope that all of the cobwebs have been cleared from that fight.

From a matchmaking standpoint, it should be really interesting to see how Head does against Ebersole. A purple belt in jiu-jitsu, Head has three of his eight victories coming by way of submission. Sure, Ebersole has 20 victories by submission, but he has also lost nine times in that fashion.

Head (R) (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

But with that, I still have to go with Ebersole in this fight. Again, my biggest concern is how well he has recovered in a month, but he has the chance to move his way into the top ten of the welterweight division if he wins this fight. Submission victory in the second for Ebersole.

DeRose: I think Ebersole has the chops to defend submissions from Head. Ebersole has done it in the past against guys much better than Head on the ground.

Ebersole is an exciting fighter to watch and his striking can be unorthodox at times, but I don’t see either fighter finishing here.

Ebersole is a huge favorite heading into this fight and you can’t bet against him, even given the short notice factor. He will still perform at a high level because that’s all he knows how to do.

Head can win the fight utilizing top control, but that’s the only way I can see him winning—he must repeatedly end up on top. Outside of that, I think Ebersole takes the unanimous decision victory and earns his fifth consecutive win.

HW: Shawn Jordan (13-3) vs. Cheick Kongo (17-7-2)

McKenna: When Cheick Kongo took on Mark Hunt at UFC 144, it was basically to determine whether or not Kongo was a contender or a pretender. He had just come back from near defeat against Pat Barry and took a solid decision from Matt Mitrione, but a victory over Hunt would have put him in the direct discussion for a shot at the title. Well, it took less than three minutes for the “Super Samoan” to mop up all of the hype left behind by the Frenchman. The loss put Kongo, now 37 years old, in that gatekeeper category. Personally, I hate using that term on fighters because it gives them a negative stigma; however, it accurately depicts him.

Kongo (R) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

And wouldn’t you know? Opposing Kongo in this fight will be relative up-and-comer Shawn Jordan. “The Savage” was victorious in his UFC debut in March, along with going 1-1 in Strikeforce and 3-1 in Bellator. From looking at his fights, it is clear that he likes to stand and bang, having notched nine (T)KO victories, but he isn’t afraid to slap a submission on his opponent, as he did when he keylocked Lavar Johnson.

The biggest thing to watch out for in this fight is the experience edge. Jordan was the first fight of the night when he debuted for the promotion at UFC on FX 2, and now he is fighting in the third fight of the pay-per-view. There is a solid chance of having him look like a deer in the headlights, and like the deer, he may just get run over. I don’t want to say that Jordan was rushed into this one, especially if you talk about the injuries that have happened lately, but I don’t see the Jackson’s MMA product doing very well in this bout. Kongo by first-round TKO.

DeRose: This one is pretty easy to pick, as I think Kongo is a huge step up in competition for Jordan.

Both fighters are going to look to slug it out, and against someone like Kongo, you don’t want that to be your first real UFC test. I think Kongo’s striking is better here, and I think that ihis fight will stay on the feet.

Jordan does have some submissions under his belt, but Kongo is smart enough and strong enough to keep from going to the ground. Jordan is getting a tremendous opportunity here to notch a big win and get some fans and the UFC brass on his side.

Jordan (Wilson Fox/Sherdog)

In the end though, I still feel this is a mismatch and Kongo takes the victory by first-round knockout. I’ll even go so far as to say he’ll win a bonus with this victory.

Chase: As with any Kongo fight, either he is knocking someone out, or he is getting knocked out. His head is what I refer to as “squishy”—not due to old age and a time-weathered career, but he just doesn’t have the chin of say a Roy Nelson. Jordan has the momentum coming into this fight, being on a small winning streak, but Kongo is a threat to any man on the feet.

I agree with Brian about the experience factor. Jordan has only had one UFC fight, and fighting a guy like Kongo is a different experience. Just standing in front of him, looking at him across the cage, is a different experience. Not saying Jordan will be shaken, but this is a step up in competition.

Jordan has some submissions, but—like Kongo—is home when he is striking. This fight is the perfect setup for ‘KO of the Night,’ and I think it could go either way. Hard to call, but I will go with Kongo winning this one in the first round as well.

MW: Tim Boetsch (15-4) vs. Hector Lombard (31-2-1)

Chase: This fight carries huge implications in my book, and while it is only the co-main, I view it as the most important. To put it very simply, this could provide us with the next challenger for the GOAT, Anderson Silva. In my opinion, if Lombard wins this fight either by finish or by a dominating decision, he will get the title shot.

Lombard (R) (William Musacchia/Sherdog)

Many are saying he doesn’t deserve it and he hasn’t fought good competition, but in this sport, I find it respectable and admirable to go 24 victories in a row. He hasn’t received a loss since 2006, the year he lost two—the only two losses of his eight-year career. He is a champion in other organizations and has been finishing his opponents. Because of the marketing strength behind giving him a title shot, he only needs to get through Boetsch. Similar to what the UFC did with Alistair Overeem, a big name from an outside organization needs only one win to get the championship bid.

If Boetsch wins, however, I think he needs at least one more before having any sort of title shot talks.

Style-wise, I think this fight goes to Lombard. He is very well-rounded, but his hands will be the deciding factor. Boetsch showed heart in his fight with Okami, but Lombard’s explosiveness and power will be troublesome for him. I see this fight ending in the first round, with a (T)KO victory for Lombard.

DeRose: I’ll have to agree here and say this is definitely a huge fight for Lombard, who comes over to the UFC carrying a lot of hype from his Bellator days.

It will be surprising to hear this, but Boetsch is actually a step up in competition from Lombard’s tenure as Bellator middleweight champion. If you haven’t watched Bellator before, just know that nobody could handle Lombard inside the cage except Alexander Shlemenko. Even then, Shlemenko still lost.

Boetsch and Lombard are two guys who will stay standing and try to knock the other out. Wherever this fight goes, Lombard has an advantage. Grappling and striking, I think Lombard definitely has the better skills.

Boetsch throws his opponent to the mat (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

In Lombard’s UFC debut, I see him earning the TKO victory in the second round and jumping up into what could be a possible No. 1 contender bout.

McKenna: Not that Lombard is fighting for this cause, but this fight will either legitimize what Bjorn Rebney and his promotion are doing, or could start to hurt its credibility. But beyond that, it will be a fight that will either legitimize Lombard, or derail the hype train.

Ever since Boetsch shed the additional 15 pounds and made his way to middleweight, he has looked like a new fighter. The fact that he decided to throw caution to the wind and land a TKO victory after he was clearly behind at UFC 144 against Okami really spoke to me, too. All the time, we see fighters who are clearly down on the cards not try hard for the finish, but we learned that Boetsch is not that kind of fighter.

But I don’t see gut and grit overcoming Lombard. Sure, it will help, but Lombard is just too good of a fighter to let Boetsch defeat him. Like my fellow panelists, I have this fight going to Lombard by TKO, sometime in the first ten minutes of the fight.

Interim BW Championship: Urijah Faber (26-5) vs. Renan Barão (28-1)

DeRose: This fight is by far the best match-up on the entirety of the UFC 149 card. Though, that is like saying you’re the most normal person working in the circus.

Both fighters are really well-rounded and could easily win the fight standing or on the ground.

Renan Barão gets the edge in striking with his knockout power and speed. Plus, he is a very diverse striker, mixing up kicks, knees and punches. Urijah Faber, meanwhile, gets the edge in grappling with his wrestling and a guillotine choke that seems to never fail.

Barão is coming off a big win over arguably a top-five bantamweight at the time in Scott Jorgensen. That win showcased who he can really be, but his one weakness was exposed—his cardio.

Towards the later rounds, Barão slowed down, and you can see his gas tank was running on empty. In a five-round title fight, that is a huge problem. If he doesn’t finish Faber within the first two rounds, I think the fight goes in favor of Faber.

Faber is known for having very good cardio, and with his wrestling he’ll be able to tire out Barão early enough to end up grabbing the submission victory by guillotine choke in the fourth round.

McKenna: Listen, I don’t want to pee in anyone’s pool on the subject of Barão—because I truly believe that he is the No. 3-ranked bantamweight in the world—but to say that his victory over Jorgensen showcased him as a fantastic fighter is silly. Sure, at the time Jorgensen was ranked pretty high, but “Young Guns” has now dropped two straight and his two recent victories aren’t exactly the equivalent of taking down Zeus and Hera. Barão is great, but don’t try to sell me that his five Zuffa wins were against the best of the best.

Faber just has too much experience to let this one slip through the cracks. Not to use the cliche term and say that you shouldn’t look past your opponent, but Faber has unfinished business with bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz which can only be settled if he is victorious against the Brazilian. Talking about only his time in the WEC and UFC, this will be “The California Kid’s” eleventh title fight. Eleventh! The championship jitters, five-round preparation, and everything else that comes along with being in the spotlight of the main event is such an afterthought for Faber, which is one of the keys to this fight.

Barao (R) connects with a left hand (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Again, I think the sky’s the limit for Barão. Eventually, just not now. I’m also going to go with Faber scoring a fourth-round victory by choke in this fight.

Chase: This is a fight that I am excited for, and I expect Faber to come out and do what he does best. Will it be enough? Time will tell, but Barão is a great challenger. His extremely impressive record and submission game is a huge threat to anyone. He is excellent at submissions, but Faber has never been submitted. On the other hand, Faber isn’t too shabby at submissions either, but Barão has likewise never been submitted.

This fight may very well stay standing, unless either man is looking to prove himself against the other in the ground game. From a historical standpoint, the Brazilian typically has the upper hand in the jiu-jitsu game compared to an American, and I would have to agree with that for this fight. Both men are comfortable on the ground, but if this fight stays standing, Faber has a better shot at dominating Barão.

I would like to think Jorgensen is Barão’s only real test of UFC talent thus far. Not to bash his past opponents, but Jorgensen and Faber are on a different level. I think Faber will take this fight, either by decision or a second-round TKO.

Prelim Quick Picks
LW: Mitch Clarke (9-1) vs. Anton Kuivanen (16-5)

McKenna: Not to sound mean, but the loser of the two relative nobodies in this fight is sure to receive a pink slip. Mitch Clarke bounces back from his first career loss and wins by submission.

Chase: I agree with Brian on this one. Both are looking to bounce back, but if this fight is ending in a finish, I have to go with Clarke.

DeRose: I’ll third the motion that this is a bounce-back fight for both fighters. But, I’ll be the black sheep here and pick Anton Kuivanen by submission.

FW: Antonio Carvalho (13-5) vs. Daniel Pineda (17-8)

DeRose: Daniel Pineda is currently sitting as the big favorite over Antonio Carvalho, and that is warranted. Pineda is well skilled all around, and I think he’ll keep the fight standing and outstrike Carvalho on his way to a decision win.

Chase: Pineda is going to win this one, and win by an exciting finish. His ability to submit or knock you out is going to overwhelm Carvalho.

McKenna: Make it unanimous for Pineda. I love taking a guy of his caliber after a loss, because guys like him come back more motivated than ever. “The Pit” by first-round knockout.

BW: Bryan Caraway (16-5) vs. Mitch Gagnon (8-1)

Chase: Someone is going to walk away from this one with another submission win. I predict Bryan Caraway will be that someone. He is much more experienced and has faced stronger competition.

McKenna: I don’t know a lot about Mitch Gagnon, but it looks like he is a one-trick pony considering seven of his eight submission victories have come from a choke, but if you’re going to have one trick, you may as well be good at it. Too bad Caraway has fourteen submission victories—he should ride out the decision in this fight.

DeRose: I personally don’t think the submission is going to come into play here. I think Caraway is going to take this fight to the ground and use his top control to grind out the decision victory.

LHW: Ryan Jimmo (16-1) vs. Anthony Perosh (13-6)

McKenna: The highly-anticipated debut for Ryan Jimmo, the former Maximum Fighting Championship 205-pound champion, will leave him with his hand raised after he takes a decision from Anthony Perosh.

DeRose: This one is pretty easy to me. Jimmo has some hype coming into the UFC for the first time, and I think he will be able to dictate the fight with Perosh. I don’t think Perosh will have the chance to get a submission here, and Jimmo will take the fight by decision.

Chase: Jimmo takes this fight, but I will predict a TKO victory. His momentum is huge and Perosh has a history of getting knocked out.

BW: Roland Delorme (8-1) vs. Francisco Rivera (8-2)

Chase: If this one goes to the ground, it belongs to Roland Delorme; but on the feet, Francisco Rivera. Styles make fights, and I think this one could be one of the best prelims.

DeRose: I think Delorme has what it takes to get this fight to the ground. If it does stay standing, Rivera does have the edge. I’ll go with Delorme’s submission abilities to get him the win here.

McKenna: I had the pleasure of meeting and briefly talking to Rivera at the UFC Fan Expo last Friday, and I can tell you first hand that he looked good and ready to go. Rivera’s takedown defense will be the key in this fight as he TKO’s Delorme in the second.

MW: Court McGee (14-2) vs. Nick Ring (12-1)

DeRose: A battle between two former TUF alumni who had a lot of hype when their show ended. Last time around, Nick Ring beat Court McGee on TUF by decision. I think the same thing will happen here. Ring by unanimous decision.

McKenna: There is a lot of unfinished business in this fight. I guarantee you “The Crusher” has wanted this rematch for quite some time, and he will seize the moment as he submits Ring.

Chase: McGee all the way. He always improves and is a well-rounded fighter. Court McGee by some form of knockout early, or via a unanimous decision.

Top Photo: Renan Barao delivers a kick (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.