MANILA, Philippines – Brazilian fighter Renan Barao outpointed Urijah Faber over five rounds to become the new Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) interim bantamweight champion in the main event of UFC 149 in Calgary, Canada.
Barao controlled the action by throwing several kicks, especially to Faber’s leg, and won with scores of 49-46, 50-45 and 49-46.
“I came very well prepared for anything. Urijah Faber was a great athlete, a great fighter but I was well prepared,” Barao said through his interpreter.
Faber was rarely able to mount a significant attack as he was kept at a distance by Barao throughout the five rounds. His attempts at takedowns were also easily stuffed, and by the fourth round, Faber was visibly limping thanks to Barao’s leg kicks.
“I knew he was going to keep his distance. He’s got really long punches and he was able to keep his kicks pretty far out,” Faber said.
Barao was able to land a heavy kick to the body in the third round that took the wind out of Faber; the American fighter said after the fight that he may have a broken rib.
Barao attempted several spinning kicks and threw several combinations, but was unable to finish off Faber as their bantamweight clash failed to live up to the pre-fight hype.
Indeed, the crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary booed for much of the later rounds as neither combanant provided the fireworks they promised.
The crowd also booed throughout much of the co-main event, which saw Cuban MMA legend Hector Lombard make his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch in a middleweight match-up.
Lombard was widely hyped going into the bout as a potential opponent for Brazilian legend and UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, but he also failed to live up to expectations.
Lombard fought a measured, patient fight and rarely initiated the offense, while Boetsch was slightly more active, throwing more kicks and punches than the Cuban.
Boetsch won via split decision, 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28.
It was Lombard's first MMA loss since November 2006.
In the undercard, French fighter Cheick Kongo outpointed Shawn Jordan in a heavyweight clash.
Their fight also lacked much action as the two fighters spent much of the three round pushed up agains the cage, with neither man showing aggression.
Kongo was the more active fighter, however, and easily defended Jordan’s attempts at takedowns. He won with scores of 30-28, 30-27, and 30-27.
With Barao’s victory in the main event, he now has a chance to win the full bantamweight belt against Dominick Cruz, who is out with an injury.
Barao becomes the fourth Brazilian to hold UFC gold, joining Silva at middleweight, Junior dos Santos at heavyweight and Jose Aldo at featherweight.
The 25-year-old Barao has not lost since 2005 and holds a 29-1 record in MMA, including a 4-0 record in the UFC.