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UFC 149 preview: Can Urijah Faber capitalize on potential final title shot against Renan Barao?

Renan Barao (left) will face Urijah Faber at UFC 149

The UFC 149 main event will feature a UFC interim bantamweight title fight between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao. This fight was created because UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz was injured in training and will be out for quite a while with rehab. Faber has had his share of title fight opportunities in his career, but lately he has come up short in all of them. Let’s break this one down to see if “The California Kid” has what it takes to break through once again.

Renan Barao (28-1, 1NC) comes into this fight off a unanimous decision win over Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143 in February. He hasn’t lost since his professional debut in 2005 and has six wins via TKO/KO and 13 wins via submission. Barao trains out of Nova Uniao, the same camp as UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and has a similar fighting style.

Urijah Faber (26-5) comes into this fight off a submission win over Brian Bowles at UFC 139 in November. Faber is (2-1) since the WEC/UFC merger with the lone loss coming in his title fight against Dominick Cruz at UFC 132. Faber is evolving striking skills, great stamina, and excels in scramble situations. He has seven wins via TKO/KO and 14 wins via submission.

Our sponsor Top Bet has Barao as the beating favorite at (-205) and Faber as the underdog at (+165).

I think I agree with those odds as I give a slight edge to Barao in this fight. I think he’s physically the stronger fighter and will have a slight reach advantage.

Faber has been doing a better job of picking his shots in the striking department, showing more patience in the pocket and seemingly developed a bit more power over the past few years. I think his pure wrestling ability is overrated a bit, but as I mentioned he excels in the transitions which is where many of his wins have come. He’ll need to do an excellent job of keeping Barao guessing while mixing up his striking and takedown attempts. Barao is great at landing power shots so Faber will need to keep constantly moving and hope to drag this fight into the championship rounds.

Many of Barao’s fights have come against unknown fighters in his native country of Brazil, but he is 5-0 in the UFC against increasingly tougher competition. Barao has outstanding takedown defense and throws strikes at a torrid pace. He’ll be looking to avoid the takedown attempts of Faber while making him pay with power shots win possible. This will be his first five round fight, so he may want to tone the throttle down a bit so he’ll be sure to have some firepower for the later rounds. Faber has been here many times and can certainly take advantage of a tired opponent. Barao throws lots of leg kicks so he’ll need to be careful of Faber catching a kick and creating those scramble opportunities.

I think Faber’s best chance is keeping the fight at a high pace while dragging Barao into the later rounds. I think it’ll be difficult for either fighter to stop the other and it’ll probably go to the judges. Barao will definitely need to be effective in the earlier rounds as I see Faber getting stronger as the fight goes on.

I think I’m going to go with Barao in this one winning a unanimous decision, but certainly can’t count Faber out in this fight.

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