Some fights are memorable for the hype, some are built on pure bad blood, but a select few are simply outstanding due to the two men stood in the cage. At UFC 149, we have one of those occasions.
Urijah Faber and Renan Barao are two of the most technically outstanding warriors in the UFC. Their cumulative skill level is just about as high as we have seen all year, and on top of that we have a card boasting the debut of Hector Lombard.
A big night awaits....
Urijah Faber v Renan Barao
Where the fight could be won or lost: You don't go seven years without a loss in this particular sport by mistake. Offence has obviously played a big part in Renan Barao's run, but a streak this long is indicative of great defence, too. Barao makes opponents miss on the feet and he's tough to take down and control on the ground. Most likely, he'll take his chances standing with Urijah Faber until something goes wrong.
Faber is about as well-rounded as they come, but he threatens most when he takes his guy to the mat. He's the better wrestler in this fight. Even considering Barao's athleticism and submission game, Faber holds a grappling advantage. Faber needs to move, come at Barao at angles and set up a takedown. As terrific as Barao has been, it's surprising he's listed as a relatively heavy favourite. Faber has experience in fighting five-round fights, and there's a decent chance this one goes late. Barao appeared to slow in his last three-rounder with Scott Jorgensen; the championship rounds could be crucial.
The pick: Urijah Faber - Unanimous decision
Tim Boetsch v Hector Lombard
Where the fight could be won or lost: No worries regarding the dreaded "Octagon jitters" for Hector Lombard. This guy has a great deal of confidence and he's competed at the highest level in judo. As the highlights tell us, he puts a lot into his punches. Terrifying knockout power. His short punches seem to carry the weight of other guys' haymakers. He will wing them from the outside occasionally, though, which could leave openings for a durable, straight puncher such as Tim Boetsch.
Boetsch has the chin to hang out and exchange in the pocket. He also likes to come forward with a straight one-two, he'll utilize uppercuts more than others and it's reasonable to think he'll be more comfortable fighting a southpaw this time around than he looked in the first two rounds against Yushin Okami. This is a middleweight fight, where one punch can change everything, and Boetsch has a chin on him. We know that. Still, he's just not the athlete Lombard is. On top of that, Lombard picks his shots and can take things down if he needs to.
The pick: Hector Lombard - KO