That’s right boys and girls, Danny Boy Downes here to lift your spirits with another edition of the Downes Side. Unfortunately, I’ll probably miss the fights since I’ll be at my bachelor party. I have told all the attendees to eschew the exotic dancers and beer and instead we will have some Chianti, discuss Coltrane albums and play Pictionary. I’m sure they’ll respect my wishes and a rousing -- but in no way arousing -- time will be had by all.
Tonight the UFC invades the Scotiabank Saddledome (which sounds almost as classy as my fraternal gathering) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for UFC 149. The main event places the UFC interim bantamweight championship on the line as Urijah “The California Kid” Faber takes on Renan Barao. Much like Pictionary, whoever wins this match needs quick reflexes, a sharp mind and the ability to adapt. Not only will the winner walk away with the title, but I also hear he gets to meet Alan Thicke.
Chris Clements (11-4) vs Matthew Riddle (6-3)
The main card begins with TUF 7 alum Matthew Riddle as he takes on Team Tompkins’ Chris Clements at welterweight. All of Riddle’s professional fights have taken place in the Octagon where he has used his strong wrestling base to defeat his opponents. A versatile striker, Clements rides a five fight win streak (4 via TKO or KO), the most recent being a close split decision win over Keith Wisniewski in April.
In his last fight, Riddle decided to slug it out with Henry Martinez and was on the losing end until he decided to finally use his wrestling. Following that same game plan in this fight would be a worse idea than paying for strippers with a personal check. Clements showed a lot of holes in his grappling game against Wisniewski and that plays into Riddle’s strengths perfectly. He’ll do the smart thing here, get the takedown and grind out a UD win.
Brian Ebersole (50-14-1) vs James Head (8-2)
Next up is another welterweight match between Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole and James Head. Known for his ground and pound and expertly manicured chest hair, Ebersole is undefeated in his UFC career. A Golden Gloves boxer with a solid BJJ game, Head appears to have no chest hair, which is no big deal. There are plenty of adult males who love Pictionary that haven’t grown chest hair.
Both of these fighters are evenly matched on the feet so his fight will come down to clinch work and wrestling. Bearing that in mind, Ebersole will be too much for Head to handle. While Head does have a solid submission game, Ebersole has squared off against other grappling aces such as Dennis Hallman, Chris Lytle and TJ Waldburger without difficulty. Ebersole gets top position in the 2nd and puts this one away.
Cheick Kongo (17-7-2) vs Shawn Jordan (13-3)
We move up to the heavyweights as six-year UFC veteran Cheick Kongo faces off against newcomer Shawn “The Savage” Jordan. Kongo looks to rebound after a big KO at the hands of everyone’s favorite verbose fighter Mark Hunt. Jordan had an impressive UFC debut with a TKO of Oli Thompson and gets a big step up in competition. A former Div-1 fullback at LSU, Jordan is one of the most athletically gifted fighters in the division.
Kongo has an overwhelming advantage in terms of experience and pure striking. He has had a problem with slow starts, though, and this will cost him the fight. Unless he’s able to pull off another counter-punch comeback like he did against Pat Barry, I see Jordan pressing forward, keeping Kongo in his heels and finishing him in the 2nd round.
Hector Lombard (31-2-1) vs Tim Boetsch (15-4)
That brings us to the co-main event of the evening as Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch looks to derail the Hector Lombard hype train. Undefeated since dropping down to 185, Boetsch tested the limits of Joe Rogan’s adjectives with his comeback win over Yushin Okami at UFC 144. A black belt in both judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Hector Lombard has won his last 25 fights and will most likely earn a shot against champion Anderson Silva with a win over Boetsch.
I like to to root for the underdog, sometimes even when it defies all logic. When I saw Back to the Future, I honestly thought that George McFly had a chance against Biff. Well, I’ve learned my lesson and I’m taking Lomabrd by first round TKO. Boetsch’s slow start may not have cost him against Okami, but Lombard hits much, much harder. He’ll catch “The Barbarian” with an overhand right early and that will be the beginning of the end. On the bright side, Lombard seems much more likable than Biff Tannen.
Urijah Faber (26-5) vs Renan Barao (28-1)
We now come to the main event of the evening. Former WEC champ Urijah Faber looks to reclaim some MMA gold while Renan Barao looks to keep his 7 year unbeaten streak going strong. In the interest of full disclosure, Faber did buy me lunch once. The sandwich was underwhelming, though, so I don’t see it influencing my decision.
Barao showed a great template for beating Faber in his last fight against Scott Jorgensen. He was able to use to his strikes to keep the distance and utilize great takedown defense en route to a decision victory. Having said that, Faber is quicker than Jorgensen and possesses better striking. I don’t see Faber being able to hold down Barao, but I do see him changing levels and having enough speed to throw the Brazilian off his game plan. As the fight drags on to the championship rounds, “The California Kid” will slowly gain more momentum as Renan slowly loses it. It may not be as pretty as his jaw line, but Faber wins this fight by unanimous decision.
That wraps up another edition of the Downes Side where I have proved once again deserving of my title as the F. Scott Fitzgerald of MMA. Be sure to follow my on Twitter @dannyboydownes and check out my reviews here. Also be sure to leave your comments, thoughts and Pictionary suggestions on the the page as well. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to making my hors d’oeuvres for tonight.
The Downes Side: UFC 149 Predictions
UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 149, taking place Saturday, July 21