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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Injuries ravaged what Saturday's UFC 149 event could have been, but even with a very minimal expectations, the pay-per-view card was a massive letdown. The preliminary card got the night off to a great start, and the pay-per-view kicked off alright with a great finish to an ok fight, but from there it was one of the poorest pay-per-view events in recent UFC history.
--The main event was a technically sound battle between two good fighters. The only problem was that it came after the middle portion of the card, and the fans in Calgary were completely done with less-than-spectacular action. Renan Barao was in danger of being a little too comfortable and complacent during the fight, as he allowed Faber to score on a lot of strikes even if they weren't doing a lot of damage. However, he was clearly the bigger, stronger, and rangier fighter throughout, and when he scored with his strikes they did a lot more damage than anything Faber threw. I don't know how he'll match up with Cruz at this point, but he's more than comfortable in the cage and with his skill set, and if he waits out a title fight he'll be competitive. It would be great to see him defend the Interim belt, considering that's the reason an Interim Title is put together in the first place, and I think a fight between him and Michael McDonald would be a fantastic Interim Title fight.
--The middle three fights on the pay-per-view card were three of the worst fights on any UFC pay-per-view in a really, really long time. Hector Lombard's anticipated UFC debut ended up fizzling out as he lost a split decision in just a terrible fight with very little going on from either fighter. It was a pattern they shared with the fight prior to them, with Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan spending about 13 minutes of their "fight" in the clinch. It was just dull and boring, and was a battle of attrition that left the crowd booing. But it didn't even start with that fight; no, the string of awfulness kicked off with Brian Ebersole's weird performance against James Head. At least that fight had some offense to it, but it was just an awkward, tedious affair through 15 minutes.
--By contrast. the opening bout between Matt Riddle and Chris Clements gave one of the night's top highlights. Riddle was clearly ahead into the third round, but he left no question the fight was his when he ducked under a spinning back fist, locked on an arm triangle choke, pulled off a beautiful trip, and choked him out. It was an excellent finish, and the best Riddle's had in his career.
--The FX Prelims were, for the most part, exciting and entertaining, though the final bout before the pay-per-view event left a lot to be desired. Nick Ring was reduced to literally running away from Court McGee's attacks by the end of the third round, and was being constantly backed up through most of the fight, yet he took a unanimous decision victory. It was a complete hometown decision, and one I don't at all agree with. He had an argument for the first round, and did a little bit of damage in the second round, but he was getting outstruck in the second and third, and the third was close to a 10-8 frame. Really unfortunate decision, especially for McGee.
--Roland Delorme's surprising streak in the bantamweight division came to a decisive end at the hands of Francisco Rivera. This one was simply a case of Rivera's massive advantage in the striking game being allowed to play out. Delorme's grappling has been superb, but without being able to implement that he was essentially out of his element. Rivera kept pressure on, landed smart strikes throughout and finished it in impressive fashion near the end of the first round. It's hard to tell where he stands in the division based off that fight, but he deserves a chance to take on some stiffer competition next time out.
--Ryan Jimmo decided to go against his reputation for boring fights on this card, smashing Anthony Perosh with one punch and tying the record for fastest knockout in UFC history. It was a perfectly placed right hand that sent Perosh down, and he added an unnecessary shot on the ground before referee Josh Rosenthal could get there. It was as good a debut as anyone could have hoped for out of him, and now he'll get a chance to prove he should fight at a higher level in the division.
--The opener on the FX card was a pretty entertaining back and forth fight between Bryan Caraway and Mitch Gagnon, but Gagnon's gas tank cost him what very well could have been his fight. He was winning the striking exchanges, and was doing a lot of damage in the moments he had top position, but his gas tank was gone midway through the second, and Caraway was able to set up a rear naked choke come the third round. The finish was excellent, though, as Caraway smartly distracted Gagnon with hands on his face, then locked up the choke when Gagnon tried to get his hands away. Very smart work, and another win for Miesha Tate's boyfriend.
--Finally, on the Facebook card, Antonio Carvalho picked up an absolutely vicious knockout win over Daniel Pineda, while Anton Kuivanen edged out Mitch Clarke. Carvalho landed a great right hook to Pineda's jaw after having a head kick blocked, and it set up two more vicious punches with Pineda just out of sorts entirely. He landed one extra punch after the fight was being stopped, and he immediately apologized and looked remorseful for the added blow. All was forgiven, and he's got a great win under his belt now inside the Octagon. As for Kuivanen-Clarke, it was decent and competitive fight, with Kuivanen deserving the nod; not much to add beyond that.
All-in-all it was a tale of two cards tonight. The excitement came from the unexpected places, while the fights that others thought could be great ended up being just the opposite. It was a strange night overall, and one the UFC will be happy to move past.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
STAFF COLUMNISTS: Shawn Ennis - Jason Amadi
Frank Hyden - Rich Hansen
Chris Park - Matt Pelkey
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