In that time, he has dominated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) standouts Chris Cariaso, Brad Pickett and Scott Jorgensen, stopping the former two. Aside from a listless decision over Cole Escovedo, he's looked practically unstoppable in recent performances.
Enter Urijah Faber.
With Dominick Cruz hurt, Faber needed a dance partner for the interim bantamweight title and Barao needed someone to challenge him.
The proper course of action was obvious.
Barao and Faber will headline this Saturday's (July 21, 2012) UFC 149 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with the interim bantamweight title up for grabs. In the co-main event, Tim Boetsch will look to capitalize on his stunning upset of Yushin Okami when he takes on former Bellator Middleweight champion Hector Lombard in the latter's Octagon debut.
Yesterday, we previewed the three bouts that comprise the Facebook/FX portion of the "Prelims" under card right here. Today, we share breakdowns of the remaining three that will air live -- and for free -- on FX.
Let's get cracking:
185 lbs.: Court McGee vs. Nick Ring
Winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11, Court McGee (14-2) actually lost his first fight in the house proper to none other than Nick Ring (12-1), a closely-contested affair that many felt should have gone to a third round. Luckily for The Pit product, Ring’s knee injury forced him off the show early, paving the way for McGee’s eventual victory. He proceeded to beat Ryan Jensen and Dongi Yang after winning at the Finale, but was recently beaten by rising Serra-Longo representative Constantinos Philippou.
Despite injury forcing Ring off the show, expectations were still high for the unbeaten Canadian. "The Promise" seemed to start his UFC on the wrong foot, getting controlled by Japanese grinder Riki Fukuda, but somehow got the decision anyway. He went on to brutalize James Head before encountering Tim Boetsch, who hurled him around the cage en route to a unanimous decision win. Ring has eight finishes to his credit, six by submission.
McGee may not have the highest ceiling ahead of him, but his relentless pace and grinding attack make him a tough out for anyone, and considering Ring’s troubles against grinders, should carry him to victory. Ring looked like an absolute world-beater against Head, true, but Head’s better suited for Welterweight and seemed to have succumbed to Octagon jitters.
McGee doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well, but neither does Ring, and what McGee does well seems to coincide with what Ring doesn’t. Expect a repeat of their first fight on TUF, with Ring taking the first round before McGee gets his feet under him and his endless cardio wears Ring out enough to put him on his back consistently.
Prediction: McGee via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Roland Delorme vs. Francisco Rivera
Unable to overcome the wrestling prowess of T.J. Dillashaw on TUF 14, Roland Delorme (8-1) nonetheless entered the UFC on a high note, taking out Josh Ferguson by third-round submission. His sophomore effort against the brutal Nick Denis was an exercise in heart and resilience, as he roared back from early damage to submit "The Ninja of Love" with just a second left in the first. Delorme has never seen the judges in victory, with six submissions and two knockouts to his credit.
After being cut from the organization following consecutive stoppage losses to Erik Koch and Reuben Duran, two knockouts in less than two combined minutes under the Tachi Palace Fights banner prompted the UFC to bring back Francisco Rivera (8-2), replacing injured Azamat Gashimov against Alex Soto at UFC on FUEL TV 3. Rivera proceeded to kick Soto’s ass with extreme prejudice, taking home a lopsided unanimous decision. He comes into this fight as a replacement for Bibiano Fernandes, who the UFC was just a little too eager to announce that they’d signed.
"Cisco" is a relatively limited fighter, but what he does well, he does VERY well. He’s got huge power for his size and the quick hands to deliver it effectively.
The problem here is that I can’t think of anything he does that Denis doesn’t do better.
Nick Denis has the highest knockout ratio of anyone I can think of at 135 pounds and, despite hitting Delorme with everything he could, couldn’t put him away. Further, Rivera has had only a month to train for this fight.
Don’t be surprised if this mirrors the Denis fight in a lot of ways -- expect Rivera to have success early on in the exchanges before Delorme gets it in his head to take the fight to the ground, at which point things turn into one-way traffic. Delorme chokes him out late in the first.
Prediction: Delorme via first-round submission
205 lbs.: Ryan Jimmo vs. Anthony Perosh
Ryan Jimmo (16-1) had his first shot at UFC glory back in 2008, when he took on Antwain Britt for a place in TUF house during its eighth season. Since then, he has worked almost exclusively in MFC, picking up its vacant light-heavyweight championship by beating Dwayne Lewis. Jimmo, a karate specialist, is unbeaten since his debut and owns wins over Wilson Gouveia and Sokoudjou, though the latter was very controversial.
After going winless in his first three UFC appearances, all at heavyweight, Anthony Perosh (13-6) returned to his natural weight class and hasn’t looked back, scoring three consecutive stoppages since a last-minute loss to Mirko Cro Cop. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist’s wins have all come inside two rounds and include a submission of Cyrille Diabate at UFC 138.
Let me just put this on the table beforehand so you can see my argument in the proper light: I bloody despise Ryan Jimmo. Not on a personal level, but he is the single most boring, ineffectual striker I have ever seen. Remember all the whining about Lyoto Machida before he sent Thiago Silva’s head through the floor? Take that and multiply it by 100. "The Big Deal" is the definition of a points fighter. He has one stoppage in his last seven fights and that only came about because of swelling around his opponent’s eye.
Now, with that said, I think he loses this fight.
What people tend to forget about Perosh is that, for all his shortcomings in the stand up, he really does have world-class jiu-jitsu. Further, he’s relentless with his takedowns no matter how badly he’s outclassed standing or how much he’s getting punished on his way in. With Jimmo’s reluctance to engage in any meaningful way, this will probably lead to "The Hippo" just spamming takedowns at him without significant retaliation.
Eventually, he should manage to get Jimmo down and threaten with subs en route to a unanimous decision. Even if he doesn’t, Jimmo is the least aggressive fighter I’ve ever seen and will lose a decision after getting pressed against the fence all night.
Also, he lost that Sokoudjou fight.
Prediction: Perosh via unanimous decision
The card may have been all but nuked from orbit by injuries, but we’ve still got some excellent matchups in store.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 149, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 6 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the evening this upcoming Saturday night.