UFC 149 Picks: Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao

UFC 149: Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao
Date: Saturday, July 21 – 10pm ET
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome Calgary, Alberta, Canada
TV: Pay-Per-View
by Evergreen, MMA Handicapper, Predictem.com

UFC 149 must have given Dana White an ulcer by now.Injuries have scrambled the scheduling of what was to be one of the most exciting summers in UFC history and has more than once altered the main event for the upcoming Pay-Per-View that features Urijah Faber versus Renan “Barao” Pegado.

Faber and Barao will face off for theinterimBantamweight Title after Dominick Cruz went down to a torn ACL during training.Faber v. Cruz III was to be the co-main event at UFC 148 but an injury to Jose Aldo left a need for a headliner at UFC 149 and White tabbed this matchup as a replacement.No matter how we got here and who is left standing, we are in for what looks like a tremendous fight and we know someone is leaving with a belt.

Faber (26-5-0) was already in line for a title shot after his 2ndround submission of Brian Bowles last November but “The California Kid” must be wishing he had a chance to settle the score with Cruz after a decision loss at UFC 132.Barao (30-1-0, 1NC) gets a look at the belt one fight earlier than he should but no one can argue with his credentials considering he is undefeated in three UFC fights and is riding a 29 fight win streak that dates back to 2005.

Both men enter the Octagon for the fourth time and we should all expect to see the crazy energy and fast pace that we are accustomed to from the 135 lb. division.There is really nothing that physically separates the two from each other and they possess many of the same strengths so there really isn’t a scenario where one fighter has a large advantage over the other.That being said, Barao is the more effective striker with Faber likely owning a small advantage on the ground with submissions but both have similar knockout and submission stats.Give an experience edge to Faber, especially when talking about title fights but no one has been able to stop Barao since his 2005 professional debut and even that loss ended by decision.A key to this fight will be who can fight to the ground most often and do damage once there.Both fighters will look to shoot but both are among the best at stuffing the opponent’s attempts.It will take expert control to keep either down for long but look for both to end the fight with a choke as they have so many times before.

My Pick to Win: Prediction: Faber (decision)

Given the similar strengths between the contestants, this becomes a bit of a chess match, if chess were full contact and played at a sprint.The MMA betting sites have Barao as the favorite with Bovada Sportsbook listing him at minus-190 and Faber at +155.Gassing won’t be an issue for either man but I see Barao coming out the more aggressive fighter.If Faber can find his timing both on the feet to land some strikes and to get Barao to the mat, his championship experience should give him the patience to score and win rounds.Faber is probably the toughest test that Barao has had and I smell a learning experience coming in the form of a close decision loss.