Photo of UFC 149's Renan Barao by Esther Lin via MMAfighting.com
When it rains, it pours.
That's what happened to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), over the past few months, as UFC 149, which took place in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, last night (Sat., July 21, 2012), underwent a series of of changes that would make your head spin if we went through all of them, top to bottom.
All in all, there were a massive 10 different changes that were made to fight on the UFC 149, due to injuries and other various causes.
It's difficult to keep a card together through such trying circumstances, but kudos to Joe Silva and the other members of the Zuffa brass for not only making sure that the show went on, but having a main and co-main event that both contained serious title implications.
Unfortunately, after a preliminary card full of knockouts and exciting finishes, the main card left many fans scrambling to figure out how to get their money back.
Follow me after the jump, where we'll outline the list of winners and losers and pick our stand outs in both categories:
Part of me wants to go with Ryan Jimmo, who made his Octagon debut with a UFC-record tying seven-second knockout in his win over Anthony Perosh. Who would've ever thought that between "Big Deal" and Hector Lombard, that it would have been Jimmo making the biggest impact as a star of a former organization in his first fight versus the big dogs in the UFC.
I also toyed with idea of giving it to Matt Riddle, who really showed his evolution as a fighter by actually using a smart gameplan and sticking to it. His submission win over Chris Clements was the best Riddle has looked in a long time. It might be the best he's looked, period.
But, I feel like it just wouldn't be right not to give the nod to Renan Barao. His win over Urijah Faber may not have been the most exciting fight ever, but he simply did what he had to do to notch the win and take home the Bantamweight interim championship belt.
"Pegado" kept his ridiculous 30-plus (depending on who you talk to) fight streak alive. He's a humble guy, and he just may well give Dominick Cruz a serious run for his money in a championship unification bout, whenever Cruz returns from injury.
I was close to nominating Urijah Faber for this award. I really was. His loss to Renan Barao was barely short of a five-round repeat of his loss to Jose Aldo at WEC 48 in Sacramento, Calif., on Apr. 24, 2010. He managed to avoid being finished, but don't let the fact that this was a decision fool you into thinking it was ever close.
It wasn't. Not for a second.
On any other night, Faber would have been a shoe-in for "biggest loser." Lucky for Faber, a man named Hector Lombard also fought on the same fight card.
Lombard came into UFC 149 riding a hype wave that reminded me of "The Dark Knight Rises." We've all been waiting for his debut. Is he legit? Or is he just a can crusher?
Like many fans, I've been watching "Shango" fight for a long time. I've always been a fan. He's a warrior who comes out looking to destroy his opponent. His fights are almost always fun to watch.
If he were able to come out and get a decisive win over Tim Boetsch, he would have been almost guaranteed a title shot versus Anderson Silva. For months, all we've been hearing is how happy Lombard is to be in the UFC, and how he's going to prove to his critics and to the world that he is the real deal.
And then it happened. He came out, and he sucked.
It's not like he got caught with a big shot. It's not like he got dominated. In some ways, it was worse than that. It was like he wasn't even trying.
Maybe he underestimated Boetsch. Maybe he had a hard time motivating himself for this opponent. I don't know what the deal is, but his performance left me scratching my head.
How he responds to this all will say a lot about where he goes from here, and it's about to get interesting.
During his stay at Bellator Fighting Championship, Lombard was a big fish in a little to medium-sized pond. He was surrounded by "yes men." He had a boss who did nothing but sing his praises.
Now, all of a sudden, he's just one of the guys. He's on the main stage, where fans will turn on him in a heartbeat if he fails to perform (and they did). He has a boss who will straight up tell him if he doesn't deliver, because unlike the smaller shows, UFC has no problem replacing just about anyone in the promotion.
How will he deal with the criticism? Historically, he's never done well with that. After his win over Falaniko Vitale at Bellator 44 in Atlantic City, N.J., on May 14, 2011, Lombard became very heated, at the post-fight press conference, when a journalist came close to questioning his performance that night. It was scary. I was there.
He has a thin skin and can often be irrational. This is the big time now. He's not going to be babied anymore.
Those are my nominees? Who are yours?