Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao
What Urijah Faber brings to the table: Faber is an explosive former wrestler who brings unorthodox and effective striking outstanding cardio, solid submissions/submission defense, and loads of toughness to the cage. He’s also a pretty filled out bantamweight, having competed in the featherweight division for the majority of his career. In the end, Faber has no real weaknesses. You have to beat him by being better than him; there’s not a lot to exploit.
What Renan Barao brings to the table: Barao hasn’t lost in his last 29 fights. The BJJ black belt is a submission nightmare, having defeated the likes of Brad Pickett, Chris Cariaso, and Anthony Leone while in the WEC/UFC by way of submission. He’s also a very solid striker with more than enough on his feet to take on most. Said another way, the guy works out with Jose Aldo.
With all of that said, as experienced as Barao is, Faber is another level of competition for him.
Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao Prediction: This is a tough call. I think that Barao’s length will pose problems for Faber. He’s a very solid striker. But even with that, Faber is getting better and better at creating unorthodox striking opportunities, which he used to drop the current champion, Dominick Cruz, on more than one occasion. What’s more, his experience in big fights and wrestling advantage may help him out here.
I see this as a back and forth fight where Faber’s legs take a little bit of a beating and he finds himself sometimes fighting off a submission attempt on the ground. But in the end, expect him to land a few big shots and use his wrestling to eke out a decision victory.
Urijah Faber defeats Renan Barao by a close decision.
Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch
What Hector Lombard brings to the table: For those of you who haven’t seen the former Bellator champion fight, there are a few things you should know right off the bat. First, Lombard is a former Olympic judo competitor (for Cuba) and 4th degree black belt in the art. He’s also a BJJ black belt. But perhaps the most impressive thing about him has nothing to do with this, nor his solid technical striking.
Lombard is a freakishly explosive athlete. We’re talking about a guy with awesome athleticism. In other words, there is a reason why people are stoked to see him in the UFC.
What Tim Boetsch brings to the table: Boetsch is a solid striker with a powerful front kick. He’s also a solid grappler with a collegiate wrestling background. Beyond the aforementioned, he hits very hard, and is a tough guy.
Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch Prediction: Boetsch is a tough out. He’s a very solid competitor who can take you out at any point in the fight on his feet. That said, Lombard is a much more explosive athlete. I think that athleticism wins out in the end here, as his speed alone should dictate a win.
Hector Lombard defeats Tim Boetsch by unanimous decision.
Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan
Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan Prediction: Jordan is a very good athlete and a former college football player. But his experience on the big stage is literally dwarfed by Kongo’s. That plus Kongo’s stand up experience may net him a victory here.
Cheick Kongo defeats Shawn Jordan by second round TKO.
Brian Ebersole vs. James Head (Welterweight)
Ebersole makes a quick turnaround, having just defeated T.J. Waldburger in a tough, closely contested fight last month at UFC on FX 4. Head was supposed to face Claude Patrick after a submission win over Papy Abedi in April, but an injury to Patrick brought about this fight.
Head’s got a solid, though unspectacular skill set. He picked up a submission win over Abedi in what was his welterweight debut, and ten fights into his MMA career he has room for growth. However, Ebersole’s very real experience edge, along with some disappointment in how he performed last month, don’t necessarily bode well for Head in this fight.
Ebersole’s the type of fighter who is really good at a lot of different aspects of the fight game, without being truly excellent in any area. He’s absolutely well-rounded, and he’s capable of surviving through bad spots as well. Though he’s turning around quick and took the fight on short notice, I still favor him significantly in this matchup.
PREDICTION: Ebersole via decision
Chris Clements vs. Matt Riddle (Welterweight)
This spot on the main card initially started out as Thiago Alves vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama. Then Akiyama got hurt and it was Alves vs. Siyar Bahadurzada. Then Alves got hurt and it was Bahadurzada against Clements. Finally, Bahadurzada went down with an injury, bringing Matt Riddle into the frame. Clearly, this fight isn’t anywhere near what could have been on this card.
Riddle should have lost a decision to Henry Martinez in his last fight, but he edged out a narrow split to snap a two-fight losing streak. He just doesn’t have a ton of power, and he’s more than willing to trade strikes with fighters who score more than he does.
Clements is coming off a split decision of his own, but he’s also got a history of stopping fights, including a win over UFC vet Rich Clementi prior to his UFC debut. Riddle’s not easy to stop, but Clements should be the better fighter here and also pick the over in the rounds.
PREDICTION: Clements via unanimous decision
Preliminary Card Quick Picks
— Court McGee over Nick Ring via decision and fight to go the distance
— Roland Delorme over Francisco Rivera via submission in the second round
— Ryan Jimmo over Anthony Perosh via KO in the first
— Bryan Caraway over Mitch Gagnon via decision
— Daniel Pineda over Antonio Carvalho via TKO in the second round
— Mitch Clarke over Anton Kuivanen via decision