UFC 149 Preview
Bovada Sportsbook Staff - Mixed martial arts history will be made at UFC 149 as the organization makes its first-ever visit to Calgary on Saturday night for a card headlined by an interim bantamweight title fight between Urijah Faber and Renan Pegado.
Faber originally was set to face bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz for a third time at UFC 148, but Cruz suffered a major knee injury during training camp and had to pull out of the fight. Then Faber and Pegado were to fight at UFC 148, but that was moved two weeks later to UFC 149 when featherweight champion Jose Aldo withdrew from his scheduled UFC 149 headliner against Erik Koch.
The 33-year-old Faber (26-5) is a former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion. The California native has won three of his past four fights and was last seen beating Brian Bowles via second-round submission at UFC 139 in November. Faber joined the UFC's bantamweight ranks last year, outpointing another ex-WEC titlist in Eddie Wineland before losing to Cruz in a rematch of their 2007 featherweight fight. It's still not clear when Cruz will be able to return, thus making this for the interim title. Only four of Faber's victories have gone to decision, but three of his losses have come that way.
Pegado (28-1), a Brazilian, is just 25 and is on a 29-fight unbeaten streak (one no-decision) since losing in his MMA debut via unanimous decision to Joao Paulo Rodrigues de Souza in April 2005. Pegado has gone 3-0 in the UFC, beating Cole Escovedo by unanimous decision in his Octagon debut, submitting Brad Pickett and most recently outpointing Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143. Of Pegado's 28 wins, 19 have come by knockout/TKO submission.
"Barao" Pegado opened as the -170 favorite for this fight at Bovada but is now at -200. Faber has taken about 65 percent of the action so far and has moved from +140 to +160. If he wins, Pegado has said he would wait to fight Cruz next in a title unification fight while Cruz heals from June 6 reconstruction surgery to repair the ACL and MCL in his left leg. Faber has said he wouldn't do the same should he win. Faber handed Cruz, who could be out a year, his sole loss to date in March 2007 when Faber was the WEC 145-pound champion.
"I'm not waiting for Dominick in any way, shape, or form," Faber said. "Everyone wants to see the fight with Dominick and I, but I'm not going to put my life on hold because of his injuries."
Meanwhile, the most evenly-matched fight on the UFC 149 card could be a heavyweight bout between Shawn Jordan and Cheick Kongo, with both currently -115 at the book. Kongo was scheduled to fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but he had to withdraw after getting his arm broken against Frank Mir at UFC 141 and not yet fully healed.
A former Bellator Fighting Championships veteran, Jordan (13-3) made his Octagon debut in March, winning by a second-round technical knockout against Oli Thompson at UFC on FX 2. Jordan has finished all but one of his 13 victories by knockout, TKO or submission. Kongo (17-7-2), a 37-year-old Frenchman, was beaten by a first-round TKO last time out by Mark Hunt at UFC 144 in February. A loss here might send him into retirement.
Finally, yet another injury forced more changes at UFC 149. Michael Bisping was forced out of his middleweight bout against Tim Boetsch (15-4). Stepping in to replace Bisping is Hector Lombard (31-2-1), who rides a 25-fight unbeaten streak into his UFC debut. Boetsch has looked like a new fighter since dropping to 185 pounds (from 205) prior to UFC 130 in May 2011. He has beaten Kendall Grove, Nick Ring and Yushin Okami in his first three middleweight bouts. Lombard is taking the majority of the early action and is at -310, with Boetsch at +240.