UFC 149 Results & Recap: Barao outclasses Faber

nullUFC 149 saw a new champion crowned, an interim champ that is.

Renan Barao pushed his winning streak to 29 fights by beating Urijah Faber via unanimous decision to win the UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship on Saturday night.

Barao made not have gotten the finish, but he decisively beat Faber thanks to his reach and his kicks. Each round he managed to out-point Faber and stay out of danger, leaving “The California Kid” puzzled throughout.

Barao certainly beat Faber in easier fashion than the actual champ, Dominick Cruz. It will be interesting to see if Cruz can find a way to stop the runaway train that is Barao. Barao may very well be the best 135-pounder in the world.

Faber has now lost his last five championship bouts, dating back to his time as a featherweight in the WEC. Though he is still highly competitive, he will likely not get another title fight anytime soon.

In the co-main event, Hector Lombard had a very unimpressive UFC debut.

The man considered to be a potential threat to Anderson Silva proved to be more of a threat to himself, as he was very tentative against Tim Boetsch. Neither man did much to impress, but two of the three judges believed that Boetsch did a little bit more, which earned him a split decision.

The poor showing from both men may open the door for Chris Weidman to earn the next middleweight title shot following his brutal KO win over Mark Munoz last week.

For complete results from UFC 149, check out the jump.

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UFC on Versus 6 Preview: Johnson vs. Cruz

nullThe main event of UFC on Versus 6 is for the UFC Bantamweight Championship with Dominick Cruz defending his UFC title for the second time against Demetrious Johnson.

The fight is a rare championship bout on free television, as the card airs on Versus this Saturday at 9PM ET.

Here is a look at both fighters heading into this title bout.

Dominick Cruz (18-1): The bantamweight champion is coming off his toughest fight to date, a unanimous decision win over Urijah Faber at UFC 132 back in July. The fight was exciting and very competitive, but allowed the champ to avenge his lone loss in his career. Cruz’ style is very difficult to prepare for as he uses very elusive footwork to work in a combination of punches and kicks and then get out of danger. He also has a very explosive wrestling background, which he tends to use late in rounds to secure 10 points with the judges. Cruz has shown the ability to take a punch when hit, and stuff opponents takedowns with great ease.

Demetrious Johnson (9-1) – Johnson has quickly surged up the bantamweight rankings, winning his last four fights in the Zuffa Organization since losing his debut with the brand to Brad Pickett back in April of 2010. His win streak has included the likes of Damacio Page, Kid Yamamoto, and Miguel Torres. Johnson has a strong wrestling base that has worked to his advantage, as he has been able to keep opponents on their back. While he has some good striking, he has a very short reach and probably will struggle to land clean strikes on the mobile champion. Johnson’s best bet to win will be to get Cruz against the cage and use his strength to force him to the ground. The more this fight is fought with distance, the worse his chances are.

Who will win? – I think Johnson has some promise, but this is not a good matchup for him and I am not quite sure he is ready for a title shot. He has not beaten any of the top four bantamweights in Cruz, Faber, Joseph Benavidez, or Brian Bowles. This is a big step up in competition and the fight is on a big stage. I see Cruz controlling the fight with his style and winning by decision once again.

Cruz vs. Johnson title fight to headline UFC on Versus 6

nullThe UFC will air its first live title fight in the history of the organization.

According to NBCSports.com’s Ariel Helwani, the UFC will have Dominick Cruz defending his UFC bantamweight championship against Demetrious Johnson at UFC Live on Versus 6, which will take place from the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Oct. 1.

There was much speculation about who would be next up for Cruz following his hard-fought decision win over Urijah Faber at UFC 132. Many felt Brian Bowles was in line to get a rematch, but it appears the UFC felt otherwise.

Johnson (9-1) has won four straight, including a decision win over Miguel Torres at UFC 130. His short size and speed could pose a problem for Cruz, who relies on his movement to win fights.

The UFC once aired a light heavyweight title fight between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Dan Henderson on free television, but that was on tape delay. This will be the first live on TV title fight in UFC history.

With this fight announced, the UFC will be putting on four title fights in the month of October with Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard and Jose Aldo vs. Kenny Florian taking place on Oct. 8 and Georges St. Pierre vs. Nick Diaz taking place on Oct. 29. It should be quite a month of fights.

Top 10 MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings

nullIt has been two months since my last pound-for-pound rankings list, and only one fighter on the list has competed in that time.

Bantamweight Champion, Dominick Cruz made his UFC debut, and successfully beat Urijah Faber, but his win wasn’t strong enough to move him ahead of Frankie Edgar. So, my top 10 is the same, but there could be some serious shakeups in the next few months with the UFC putting together a number of big fights in the fall and early winter.

1. Anderson Silva (28-4): Silva is still the most feared opponent of anyone in MMA due to his devastating and unique striking ability. Chael Sonnen is the only man to make him look beatable, but Silva still found a way to beat him by submission despite a serious rib injury. Yushin Okami is next up for “The Spider” at UFC 134, which will be a good test for Silva, who has an obvious weakness in wrestling.

2. Georges St. Pierre (22-2): GSP will return to action in October to take on Nick Diaz. The welterweight kingpin hasn’t been challenged much in his recent fights, but he also hasn’t been that impressive either. St. Pierre is in need of a dominant win with a finish to really be considered for the top spot.

3. Jose Aldo (19-1): Aldo is set to face off with Kenny Florian in early October, defending his featherweight title for the second time in the UFC. Aldo is similar to Silva in the fact that his striking is so strong that many opponents have a hard time coming up with a game plan that they can stick to when they face off with him. Florian will provide a good test for Aldo, but it may not be enough to beat “Junior.”

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Top 10 Bantamweight Rankings

nullUFC 132 established who the top bantamweight in the world is.

The rankings haven’t changed too much in the last few months, but here is the latest top 10 in the 135-pound division.

1. Dominick Cruz (18-1) – Cruz (AP Photo) avenged his only loss in the division by taking a decision win over Urijah Faber. Cruz controlled the style and pacing of the fight and landed a lot more strikes. The bout was close, but Faber didn’t show me much to think he deserved to get the title.

2. Urijah Faber (25-5) – Faber gave Cruz the toughest fight he has to date in the division. He landed a few big punches and avoided the takedowns of Cruz. Faber proved he still has something left in the tank, but he needs to make some adjustments to beat Cruz. It will be interesting to see who is next for “The California Kid.”

3. Joseph Benavidez (14-2) – Benavidez has been relatively quiet as of late as he hasn’t fought since UFC 128, but he will take on Eddie Wineland at UFC Live 5. Benavidez has been in a tough spot as his teammate, Faber, has been contending for the title. Benavidez now has a chance to get back into the spotlight, but he needs an impressive showing.

4. Brian Bowles (10-1) – Bowles has earned a rematch for his title as he has two solid wins since coming back from his injury. Bowles lost to Cruz because of a broken hand, not because he was clearly beaten by the champion, so there is some question as to what he could do against Cruz. Given the way he lost the title, I think he deserves the next shot at it.

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Who should get the next shot at Dominick Cruz?

nullAs always, after a champion defends his title, the question is always: who is next?

Dominick Cruz won a very close decision over Urijah Faber at UFC 132, but the fight was close enough to warrant Faber some discussion of an immediate rematch.

But, if not Faber next, then who deserves the shot?

Here is a look at four possible candidates.

1. Urijah Faber – Faber gave Cruz the toughest fight he has had at bantamweight, even tougher than his teammate Joseph Benavidez. Faber has the quickness to match Cruz, but he still wasn’t able to force Cruz out of his style. He was out-struck and to a degree, out-wrestled. It is hard to see Faber winning without a KO against Cruz. Faber has also lost his last four title fights and one has to wonder if he deserves an immediate rematch with a 4-4 record in his last eight fights.

2. Brian Bowles – Bowles is 10-1 in his career with his lone loss coming against Cruz after 10 minutes. Bowles wasn’t stopped by Cruz, he simply broke his hand. Bowles was getting beat at that point in the fight, but still, it wasn’t decisive. Bowles had a year off after the loss to Cruz due to the injury, but he has bounced back with two-straight wins. Considering the way he lost the belt, he probably deserves some strong consideration for a rematch with Cruz.

3. Demetrious Johnson – Johnson has won four straight fights in the division, including wins over “Kid” Yamamoto and Miguel Torres. The small and scrappy wrestler may struggle with the movement of Cruz, but he appears to have some athleticism to maybe pose a challenge to the champion.

4. Brad Pickett – Picket is the lone loss for Johnson, but he has been largely inactive due to injuries. He lost a tough decision to Scott Jorgensen last August, but rebounded with a win over Ivan Menjivar. Pickett is a scrapper that has some good hands and good wrestling. Pickett would certainly bring the fight to Cruz, but he hasn’t been in the public eye much and has actually yet to fight in the UFC.

UFC 132 Recap & Review – Too Much To Cover

nullWell, where do I begin?

UFC 132 took place last night and was one of the most entertaining PPV’s I have seen in quite some time.

There were so many storylines that emerged from the event, but I guess I will have to start with the main event.

Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber put on quite a show, proving that bantamweights can headline a PPV. In the end, Cruz won a close unanimous decision that had Faber crushed and Cruz looking very joyous and relieved (AP Photograph).

I personally felt Cruz won 48-47 based on scoring rounds, but I don’t feel like the fight had a true winner or loser. I didn’t think Faber did enough to warrant winning the title, but I think he should be considered for an immediate rematch.

Faber’s quickness did nullify some of Cruz’ movement, but Cruz still seemed to dictate the pace and style of the fight. The ground scrambles were really impressive from both men and that essentially made the fight a standup battle, where Cruz landed a lot more strikes.

In the co-main event, Chris Leben defeated Wanderlei Silva by KO in just 27 seconds. Coming in, many thought Tito Ortiz would be fighting his last fight, but it may have been Silva that did, as he suffers another big time KO and is just 2-6 in his last eight fights.

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UFC 132 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC 132 takes place Saturday night from Las Vegas with a stacked card.

The main card features five exciting bouts and here are my picks for the contest.

UFC Bantamweight Championship – Dominick Cruz (17-1) vs. Urijah Faber (25-4) – In this rematch I see Cruz winning by unanimous decision. His movement and wrestling will be too much for Faber to deal with. Cruz is a much different fighter than the one that met Faber before and I expect his footwork to pose problems for Faber and his explosive takedowns will be too much for Faber to stuff.

Middleweight Bout – Wanderlei Silva (33-10-1) vs. Chris Leben (21-7) – In this battle of strikers, I like Silva as I think his striking is a little more diverse. I think Silva’s chin is a little weaker, but I expect Silva to land the big punch first. Leben has a big heart, but he has struggled against strikers in the past. Look for Silva to win by second round TKO.

Light Heavyweight Bout – Tito Ortiz (16-8-1) vs. Ryan Bader (12-1) – This should be Ortiz’ final bout with the UFC as I see Bader winning by decision. I think the fight should be competitive, but Bader’s athleticism and combination of wrestling and striking should be too much for Ortiz, who will have to score takedowns in order to win.

Welterweight Bout – Carlos Condit (26-5) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (14-0-1) – This should be a very close fight, but I like Kim to remain unbeaten. His size and strength should be too much for Condit. I see Kim putting his weight on Condit against the fence and then scoring some judo throws and takedowns to control Condit. Look for Kim to win by decision.

Lightweight Bout – Dennis Siver (18-7) vs. Matt Wiman (13-5) – Siver is a short, compact striker that is hard to get to the ground because of his low center of gravity. I see Wiman struggling to get the fight to the ground, and that will allow Siver to out-point Wiman with his striking. My pick is Siver by decision.

UFC 132 Preview: Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber

nullCan Dominick Cruz learn from past mistakes or is history doomed to repeat itself?

That’s the main storyline heading into Saturday’s UFC Bantamweight Championship bout.

Faber beat Cruz by submission in just 1:38 back at WEC 26 on March 24, 2007. Cruz is now a much different fighter, but will it matter against his rival?

Here is a breakdown of both fighters and my pick for this contest.

Dominick Cruz (17-1) – The bantamweight champion has won his last eight bouts since the loss to Faber. He has been on a tear as of late, dominating each of his opponents. Cruz uses a lot of footwork with his striking as he keeps his opponents from being able to settle in. Cruz also has very explosive takedowns, which he likes to use late in rounds to put an exclamation point on his dominance. Cruz has managed to easily defeat strikers and grapplers in his recent string of wins.

Urijah Faber (25-4) – Faber is one of the all-time greats for the lighter weight fighters. He has very quick hands and a strong wrestling base. He also has developed solid submission skills over his storied career. Faber has had 20 of his 25 wins come by stoppage with 13 coming by submission. Typically Faber likes to use his quick hands to work jabs and combinations. If the fight goes to the ground, Faber uses his strength to control the fight and usually finds a way to work in a submission.

Who Will Win – Both men are unorthodox, but I don’t see a scenario where Cruz isn’t able to use his style and make Faber have to take chances. That will open the door for Cruz to get his takedowns and control the fight. Faber may have the quickest hands Cruz has ever faced, but Faber has yet to fight someone that has the style that Cruz currently has. It was a problem for his teammate, Joseph Benavidez, and I see it being a problem for him as well. I will take Cruz to successfully defend his title by unanimous decision.

Your weekly MMA TV schedule update

nullA Sunday UFC event threw off our weekly TV update, so here it is on Monday night.

This week, the TV focus is solely on UFC 132, as the premiere MMA organization puts on a pretty strong card on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

- On Wednesday, the Countdown to UFC 132 premiers on SpikeTV at 1:12 p.m. ET. The UFC lists the time, which seems like an odd time to begin a show. The show will go in depth about the key bouts of UFC 132. It will re-air on SpikeTV on Thursday at 11 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. It will also re-air on Versus on Thursday at 7 p.m.

- Prior to the UFC PPV on Saturday, SpikeTV will air UFC 132 Prelims Live at 8 p.m. The two free prelims on SpikeTV are expected to be a pair of lightweight showdowns as Melvin Guillard faces off with Shane Roller and George Sotiropoulos takes on Rafael Dos Anjos.

- At 9 p.m. ET, UFC 132 airs live on PPV. The main event of the card features a bantamweight championship bout between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber. In the co-main event, strikers Chris Leben and Wanderlei Silva meet in a middleweight clash. Light Heavyweights Tito Ortiz and Ryan Bader will also face off in a featured bout.