Tuesday, 24 July 2012

UFC 149 Faber vs Barao on ESPN - TV Review

It’s time to step into the Octagon once again as we take a look at the battle between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao in the main event of UFC 149, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.

The broadcast began with action from the welterweight division as Chris Clements took on Matthew Riddle.

The only fight of the broadcast that didn’t go the distance was a very entertaining encounter.

Riddle put on a dominating performance in the ground game. Whenever he took the fight downstairs he seemed able to transition at will, and there didn’t seem anything Clements could do about it.

Clements best moments came with his striking. It was a nice display from the home country boy, but it was Riddle who had the best shot of the fight. He was also on the end of a strange refereeing decision.

When Riddle connected with a body kick in the first round Clements doubled over in pain. The referee thought that the kick had gone south of the border and stopped the action, even though he was right on top of the fighters. If Riddle had been allowed to continue he could have got the finish there and then.

He did get the finish in the third round. After some more tremendous grappling he synched in an arm triangle choke while they were still standing, quickly taking it to the ground as Clements tapped within seconds to give Riddle the submission win.

The welterweight action continued with Brian Ebersole and James Head.

This certainly proved to be an interesting encounter.

Ebersole put in his usual eccentric performance. His striking was okay, and at one point the targeted Head’s thigh with a couple of punches. But whenever he went for a takedown Head successfully defended more often than not.

Head looked okay if unspectacular. Like his opponent his striking was okay and his takedown defence was sound, but whenever Ebersole left his neck out when he went for a takedown the obvious tactic would have been to go for a guillotine, but it was a tactic he missed out on time and time again.

With neither man able to get the finish the decision went to the judges as Head took the split decision.

The big boys of the heavyweight division were up next as Cheick Kongo went up against Shawn Jordan.

This is another of those fights that fits firmly into the interesting category.

For three rounds these two put on a battle of clinches against the fence, and although it was technically sound it was also somewhat unspectacular.

Kongo had the most success with this tactic as he defended against Jordan’s takedowns time and time again, but it says a lot about this fight that the best part of these clinches came in the first round when a stray elbow from Jordan caught Kongo in the family jewels while the Frenchman had his back.

There were a couple of striking exchanges, and at one point Jordan took the guard when Kongo failed in his attempt to take his man’s back, but the guy did absolutely nothing when he had the advantage.

With the fight going the distance more work went the judges’ way as Kongo took the unanimous decision.

The penultimate fight featured middleweight action as Hector Lombard faced Tim Boetsch.

This one wasn’t much better. For the majority of this fight Lombard stood flat footed in front of Boetsch. At least Boetsch looked a little more active as he bounced around.

The exchanges were okay but they were hardly inspiring. The best exchange came in the second when Lombard connected with a kick to the body that had Boetsch in some trouble.

Lombard did manage to score with a big takedown, but that was about it, and given his reputation his performance was a little disappointing.

Once again the judges were called into action as Boetsch took the split decision.

The main event saw Urijah Faber taking on Renan Barao for the Interim Bantamweight title.

The story of this one was simple. Barao put in a dominating performance through the five rounds. His punching was top notch and his kicking was even better as he targeted Faber’s lead leg throughout.

The damage he was causing was apparent for all to see as Faber’s leg turned the sort of colours it shouldn’t.

Faber had his moments, but once the leg damage was done he was clearly second best, and although this fight was entertaining the one thing It was missing was that big combination or exchange, the sort of action that would have had the crowd on their feet in anticipation of a big finish.

The finish wasn’t forthcoming though, which meant more work for the judges. Their final act of the evening was to give Barao the unanimous decision.

In conclusion - head honcho Dana White described this show as embarrassing. I would have described it as disappointing.

While the Riddle/Clements opener (my fight of the night) and the Barao/Faber fights were okay the three fights in the middle were definitely lacking, and when the fans in attendance send down a constant steam of boos that sound like a baritone vuvuzela during the fights you know that something’s wrong.

So for the first time in ages I’m left with a feeling of disappointment after watching a UFC show, and that’s why for what could be the first time ever I’m giving a UFC show the thumbs down.

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