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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What did we learn this week? For May 6, 2012

nullIt has been a while since I have posted on here, but I am back with weekly looks at MMA, mainly the UFC.

So, here is a look at what we learned this week.

- Nate Diaz may be an unsolvable problem for 155 pounders – Nate Diaz looked more than impressive against Jim Miller in the UFC on FOX 3 main event on Saturday. Miller had the kind of style that I expected to give Diaz some trouble, but he ran right through him. Diaz’ long reach has really been a problem for his opponents and he seems to be a vastly improved fighter since moving back from welterweight to lightweight. Miller was one of the top fighters in the division and Diaz made him look like a first timer. Diaz could legitimately become the UFC champion as I don’t know that a Benson Henderson or Frankie Edgar will be able to outwork him or deal with his jabs.

- Where does Josh Koscheck go from here? – Certainly it would be hard to say that Josh Koscheck was dominated by Johny Hendricks and you could maybe make the argument that he beat Hendricks on Saturday. Regardless, Koscheck certainly didn’t dominate Hendricks either. Koscheck seems to have become a fighter that refuses to go back to his roots when needed. He is one of the top wrestlers, and perhaps most explosive wrestler, in the 170 pound division. Koscheck is relying on his big swings and limited striking to try and win fights, even when it is clear he is not winning. Koscheck has only been out-wrestled one time in his career, and that was by Georges St. Pierre. In a fight like Saturday’s, I would have liked to see him take Hendricks down and work his ground striking as opposed to hoping for a knockout punch. Now Koscheck is lost in the welterweight division and not capable, in my mind, to make a run at middleweight. He needs to reinvent himself if he hopes to ever win UFC gold.

- Where would Alan Belcher be if he never got injures? – Belcher had about as good of a performance as Diaz, as he stopped Rousimar Palhares in the first round with some vicious ground and pound. Belcher was on a nice run in the UFC prior to an eye injury that nearly ended his career and sidelined him for over a year. Since his return, Belcher has first round finishes of Jason MacDonald and Palhares and he has won four straight overall. The middleweight division has quickly become very competitive with the addition of Hector Lombard. With Chael Sonnen, Brian Stann, Mark Munoz, and Michael Bisping all in the mix, Belcher should be right there with them.

Top 10 Middleweight Rankings

nullThe middleweight division had a big fight this past weekend but the result wasn’t too surprising.

Anderson Silva maintained his top spot in my top 10 middleweight rankings with his win on Saturday and it seems he has only one man that can truly pose a threat to his championship.

Here is a look at the top 10 in the 185-pound division in my eyes.

1. Anderson Silva (31-4) – Silva made Yushin Okami look like an amateur last Saturday and he has cemented himself as the best middleweight in UFC history. Next up for Silva will likely be a rematch of some kind, with either Chael Sonnen or Dan Henderson.

2. Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) – Sonnen hasn’t competed since pushing Silva to the limit last fall, but he is scheduled to face Brian Stann at UFC 136 in early October. Sonnen appears to be the lone hope to dethrone Silva someday, but the champion still managed to submit Sonnen despite an injured rib and 20 minutes of pummeling.

3. Vitor Belfort (20-9) – Belfort showed his explosive ability in his quick knockout of Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133. He still may have the fastest hands in the division, but he missed his opportunity when he faced Silva back in February. A few more wins for Belfort may get him another crack at the title.

4. Yushin Okami (26-6) – Okami also had his chance, but couldn’t find a way to make his fight with Silva a grappling one. He seemed to passive and allowed Silva to get comfortable on his feet, and that is always a losing combination. Okami has to go back to the drawing board, and will likely need a long winning streak to get another title fight.

5. Michael Bisping (21-3) – Bisping is going to face off with Mayhem Miller later this year for a chance to propel himself into title contention. Bisping is still looking for a marquee win in his career and he hasn’t been terribly impressive since his TKO win over Denis Kang back at UFC 105 in 2009. Bisping needs an emphatic victory over Miller to really be considered a title contender.

6. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (14-2) – The Strikeforce Middleweight Champion is set to return to action next week against Luke Rockhold, who is good competition in the Strikeforce organization, but not a great opponent on the world stage. Someday, with Strikeforce slowly merging into the UFC, I would expect Souza to compete in the elite organization someday.

7. Brian Stann (11-3) – Stann faces his toughest test to date when he squares off with Chael Sonnen at UFC 136. Stann has established himself as a feared striker in the division with respectable grappling skills. In this fight, he will need to have tremendous takedown defense to keep the relentless Sonnen from getting top position.

8. Mark Munoz (11-2) – Munoz will take on Chris Leben at UFC 138 in the highest-profile fight of his career. Munoz is a grinder that has some big punching power without the technique. His strength is his wrestling, but he will mix it up with anyone. He should probably stick to the wrestling in his bout with Leben.

9. Chris Leben (22-7) – Leben breaks into my top 10 list after his impressive KO of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132. Leben clearly has the striking power to beat anyone on this list, but lacks the grappling skills and pure boxing technique to really become a top 5 contender. His bout with Munoz will test how far his grappling has come and show if he is ready to make a serious run at the title.

10. Alan Belcher (16-6) – Alan Belcher will make his return to action in a couple weeks after an eye injury sidelined him for more than a year. Belcher was on his way to becoming a title contender before getting hurt. When he returns on Sept. 17, he will face off with Jason MacDonald, another UFC veteran. The long layoff will be something Belcher has to overcome, but a win over the submission specialist will be a nice start for his return.

UFC 138 announced for England, Munoz vs. Leben headlines

nullThe UFC announced today that UFC 138 will take place from Birmingham, England with a main event of Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz.

The card will air live via tape delay on cable TV, likely Spike TV, unless a new deal is reached.

Leben (AP Photo) has won four of his last five fights, including a 27-second KO of Wanderlei Silva back at UFC 132.

Munoz is coming off a win over Demian Maia at UFC 131 and his lone loss at middleweight was a decision to current No. 1 contender, Yushin Okami.

This fight should be a good mixture of striking and grappling, but which one has the ability to push through and get another big victory?

Top 10 Middleweight Rankings

nullThis week the rankings move back to the middleweight division.

The 185-pound weight class had some interesting developments over the last few months as Chael Sonnen has had his return to the UFC pushed back and one of the top fighters, Nate Marquardt, is moving down to 170 pounds.

Nonetheless, here is what the top 10 in this weight class looks like.

1. Anderson Silva (28-4) – Silva is not only No. 1 on this list, but also on my pound-for-pound list. I think he has a tough test ahead of him in Yushin Okami at UFC 134, as Silva has shown a weakness against big wrestlers. Still, many of Silva’s opponents show him too much respect, which plays right into his hands.

2. Yushin Okami (26-5) – I am moving Okami up to number two because Sonnen’s future is in question and he seems to be losing steam with each passing day. Okami has beaten many of the best in the UFC, but he now has a chance to face the very best in Silva. Okami is a grinder, and that is what will be the most dangerous opponent for Silva to face.

3. Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) – Sonnen has a good skill set, but his mouth and his poor choices have caused him to have a questionable future. Despite the fact that he pushed Silva to his limit, Sonnen still was unable to come through with a win. Sonnen has a clear weakness against submission specialists, but he has easily handled some of the top fighters in this division.

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UFC 131 Results & Review – Dos Santos A Legit Threat To Velasquez

nullJunior dos Santos was the No. 1 contender to the UFC heavyweight title coming into UFC 131, and he is still the No. 1 contender after UFC 131.

The 26-year-old heavyweight improved to 13-1 with a unanimous decision victory over Shane Carwin on Saturday, dominating the entire fight. Dos Santos’ reach proved to be a big factor as Carwin struggled to get inside Junior and dos Santos also showed impressive takedown defense to keep the fight standing.

In the first round, Carwin was nearly finished (and I personally would have stopped the fight) as he took a barrage of strikes from Junior that left him a bloody mess, but he managed to survive and last all 15 minutes.

Dos Santos looked as good as I have ever seen him and he appears to be a legit threat to UFC heavyweight champ, Cain Velasquez.

The co-main event saw Kenny Florian successfully make his featherweight debut by beating Diego Nunes by unanimous decision. Florian lost the first round on two scorecards but bounced back by controlling a tired Nunes for the final 10 minutes.

The other big win of the night came for Mark Munoz, who won a close decision over Demian Maia. All three rounds were competitive and close, but all judges scored the bout for the wrestler, Munoz. Maia showed impressive striking in the first round while Munoz controlled the fight with his wrestling in the final two rounds.

For complete UFC 131 results, check out the jump.

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UFC 131 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC 131 takes place on Saturday from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Here is a rundown of my takes on all the main card bouts.

Heavyweight Bout – Shane Carwin (12-1) vs. Junior dos Santos (12-1) – This should be an explosive fight and I see Carwin walking out the winner. I don’t see the fight going beyond five minutes as both fighters have explosive power. I suspect Carwin can take a punch better than dos Santos, which will allow him to earn a first round KO.

Featherweight Bout – Kenny Florian (13-5) vs. Diego Nunes (16-1) – This will be a tough test for Florian, who is making his 145-pound debut against Nunes, who is on a nice run as of late. If Florian can handle the weight cut and continue to fight his style, he should be able to out-class Nunes and secure a submission in the third. I suspect Florian will do just that.

Middleweight Bout – Demian Maia (14-2) vs. Mark Munoz (10-2) – Munoz is a tough guy, but I think he will struggle with Maia on the ground. I look for Maia to pull off an impressive submission in the second round on the wrestler.

Heavyweight Bout – John Olav Einemo (7-1) vs. Dave Herman (20-2) – Einemo seems to be one dimensional and just strong with his submissions while Herman is an impressive striker and well-conditioned fighter. My pick is Herman to win by knockout in the third round.

Lightweight Bout – Donald Cerrone (14-3) vs. Vagner Rocha (6-1) – I think Cerrone should control this fight from start to finish. I don’t see him finishing Rocha, who is good at submission defense, but I do see Cerrone getting the decision win.

UFC 131 Preview: Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz

nullCan Mark Munoz become a legit contender in the UFC middleweight division?

That is the question facing “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” as he gets set to face Demian Maia at UFC 131 on Saturday. Both men are on the verge of being a top-5 contender in the division. But, Maia has been here before, while Munoz has yet to truly break through.

Here is a look at both fighters heading into this contest.

Demian Maia (14-2) – Maia is coming off a pair of wins and working his way back toward a title fight in the UFC. Maia has some of the slickest submission grappling moves in the world. He has submitted the likes of Chael Sonnen and Jason MacDonald and he has the capability of submitting Munoz. Maia does struggle with his striking, as he would much rather be fighting off his back than fighting on his feet.

Mark Munoz (10-2) – Munoz is on a nice run in the UFC, winning five of his last six, with his lone loss a split decision to current No. 1 contender, Yushin Okami. Munoz is a tremendous wrestler with improving striking and a lot of heart. Munoz likes to push the action, even if he doesn’t quite have the condition to do so. He enters this fight with better striking than his opponent, but his wrestling could play into Maia’s hands, as Maia is one of the best submission fighters in the world.

Who Will Win: I like the effort Munoz puts forward, but I think Maia will be too skilled for him. Munoz isn’t a good enough striker to truly dominate a fight with his boxing. At some point I see this fight going to the ground, and when it does, I expect Maia to show off his talents and secure a submission.

Your weekly MMA TV Schedule update

nullIt’s another Sunday night, which means we have another MMA on TV update.

This week is pretty thin during the week as The Ultimate Fighter wrapped up its season, but the weekend still features another big UFC PPV, UFC 131.

- On Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, the Countdown to UFC 131 debuts on SpikeTV. The hour-long program will take an inside look at key fighters for this Saturday’s PPV event. The main aspect of the show will focus on the main event between heavyweights Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin. The show will replay on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET and 2 a.m. ET on Versus as well as midnight on Friday on SpikeTV.

- On Friday at 10 p.m. ET, HDNet will air Maximum Fighting Championship 30: Up Close & Personal live from the Mayfield Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. The main event is a lightweight showdown between Drew Fickett and Brian Cobb while Marcus Davis and Pete Spratt meet in a fight between two UFC veterans.

- On Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on PPV, UFC 131 will take place from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. Carwin and dos Santos face off in the main event while Kenny Florian makes his featherweight debut against Diego Nunes. Demian Maia also faces off with Mark Munoz in a middleweight bout while Donald Cerrone takes on Vagner Rocha in a lightweight contest. Some of the prelim bouts will air live on SpikeTV at 8 p.m. ET and other bouts are expected to air live on Facebook.