When all is said and done, $55 isn’t very much money. Maybe you and your significant other can go to a mediocre dinner with no alcohol involved, you could buy yourself an okay at best seat at a baseball game, or maybe even admission to an amusement park. All three of these choices would be a significant upgrade over UFC 149, if you’re one of the unfortunate people who decided to shell out the money for the ever-changing, injury-plagued card.
Again, it’s not that $55 is going to break anyone’s bank, but when you consider that the prelims were awesome—the “Fight of the Night” was Bryan Caraway vs. Mitch Gagnon, the first fight of the night on FX. The prelims saw three knockouts, a rear-naked choke that came at the end of an almost 15-minute war, a very close split decision and a controversial unanimous decision. At the end of Court McGee’s fight against Nick Ring many who were probably not going to buy the pay-per-view likely changed their mind. If the main card came close to living up to the prelims, it would have been one of the best cards in recent memory, rather than the worst.
First, let’s keep in mind that this card was a shell of what it was supposed to be. Second, Matt Riddle looked fantastic against Chris Clements, catching him with a standing arm-triangle for “Submission of the Night” honors. Third, the main event between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao may not have been what people were expecting of the two bantamweights, but as anyone who truly appreciates the art of mixed martial arts knows, it was a technical gem that saw Faber fight through four rounds with a broken rib while Barao, on his way to becoming interim champ, showed flashes of Jose Aldo.
Speaking of Aldo, he was supposed to headline this card, but was one of many hit with the injury bug. When has the bantamweight champ ever been involved in a boring fight?
Next, Michael Bisping and Tim Boetsch were supposed to go at it. Say what you will about “The Count,” but he definitely would’ve been a more game opponent than Hector Lombard turned out to be.
Brian Stann and Lombard were also scheduled to face off. Again, Lombard definitely disappointed in his Octagon debut, but Stann likely would’ve been able to put an end to the bout earlier than the lackluster decision Lombard and Boetsch fought to.
Injuries aside, wasn’t UFC 135 in Denver proof enough that you don’t put heavyweights at high altitude? Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan did nothing more than clinch against the cage on Saturday night. In the third round, they were both clearly exhausted. If a punch was thrown in that third frame, it must have come during one of the many times the audience nodded off during the snore-fest. Kongo is in phenomenal shape—just look at the guy, he’s like a walking statue honoring a Greek (or French) god—and he was still clearly gassed. The writing was on the wall for this one before it even started, but maybe it just wasn’t bright enough. From here on out, any event at altitude should come equipped with a flashing sign that reads “Heavyweights Keep Out.”
As another consequence of the injuries that riddled the card, we saw Brian Ebersole take a fight on extremely short notice just under a month after his last Octagon appearance. There have been rumors that he’s dropping to lightweight, and his physique this past weekend would certainly lean toward confirming those rumors, as he appeared to have lost quite a bit of muscle tone. He was in the midst of an 11-fight winning streak and undefeated in the UFC. It’s a shame his first loss had to come the way that it did.
Last but not least was the performance, or lack thereof, by Lombard. In reality, most things—or in his case, people—with that kind of hype behind them fail to deliver. The Olympic judoka definitely failed to deliver. I’ll be the first to admit that I probably don’t give Boetsch the credit he may deserve, but Octagon jitters aside, Lombard would get crushed by any of the top-five middleweights currently in the UFC and potentially even a few of the Strikeforce middleweights as well. Yes, he was on a twentysomething-fight winning streak when he entered the UFC, but did anyone actually take the time to look at the guys he’s fought over the course of that span? He fought Ebersole four years ago—yes, the same Ebersole who appears to be dropping to lightweight. Joe Doerksen, Trevor Prangley, Alexander Shlemenko, oh and a guy named Silva—too bad his first name was Jay.
When you put on 30 events or more a year, you are bound to run into some that don’t excite. The thing is, UFC 149 wasn’t supposed to entertain. People have been criticizing it for weeks, essentially since Aldo was injured well over a month ago. It’s to be expected when you have a bunch of guys taking fights on short notice, over-hyped fighters who have never stepped foot in the Octagon carrying the load, and you throw altitude into the equation.
Yes, it’s unfortunate that so many people dropped $55 on this card, especially with the current state of our economy, but if you’re real with yourself, you’ve known for a while that UFC 149 wasn’t going to deliver. We only have ourselves to blame.
Photo: Renan Barao (L) battles Urijah Faber (James Law/Heavy MMA)