This weekend the UFC visits Calgary for the first time for UFC 149 and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.

Main Card:

Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao

This should be a good, competitive scrap for the interim bantamweight title. Faber’s extremely tough and durable and has the wrestling advantage here. However, while he’s also solid in the stand-up department Barao has more finesse, more versatile offense, and the kind of leg kicks that have proven problematic for Faber in the past.

In addition Barao also has an excellent sprawl and is deadly on the ground with submissions. So, in order to win I think Faber has to navigate past that takedown defense to get the Brazilian to the mat and then steer clear of the submission attempts as he looks to impose his wrestling. I think that’s going to be a tough task over five rounds.

Faber’s got experience of the big occasion on his side though, and the cardio to go five tough rounds which could be a big factor. Nonetheless, I’ve been very impressed with Barao so far in the UFC and I fancy him to keep this fight standing for sustained periods and being able to outstrike the former WEC champ to earn a decision win.

Renan Barao to win by decision.

Hector Lombard vs. Tim Boetsch

Lombard’s debut in the UFC could have big implications for the middleweight division if he can replicate that kind of form he’s shown elsewhere, but that’ll be no easy task against Boetsch who isn’t a stand-out in any particular area, but is a big, hard-headed, well-rounded middleweight that’s a step above a lot of the guys Lombard’s been facing.

Lombard does have dynamite in his fists though and a quality submission game to boot. He’ll be looking to come out aggressively as he always does and put Boetsch away early. He could be successful in that regard, but I think Boetsch is tough enough to weather that early storm and is skilled enough himself in the stand-up game that it won’t be one-way traffic. He might even look to break up the early action with clinch work to stop the Bellator champ from getting into full flow.

If Boetsch is successful in doing so, and can make it into the second half of the fight then that’ll stand him in good stead as Lombard’s early exertions will begin to take their toll. Variety will be the key for him – switching between stand-up, clinch work and takedowns attempts I believe there’s a good chance for Boetsch to wear Lombard down and finish strongly to scrape together a close decision victory.

Tim Boetsch to win by decision.

Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan

On his day Kongo can be a good striker, but in general I’ve not been too impressed with him for some time. He’s more tentative than he used to be, and perhaps the fact that his chin is rather more fragile these days has something to do with that.

Jordan is 10 years younger, is extremely athletic for his broad, 245lb frame, and has a wrestling background which will be his best key to success here. He’s not particularly technical on his feet though and has been KO’d a couple of times in the past which will be a concern against someone like Kongo, but he’s got power in his hands.

It’s usually the upper-level heavyweight’s that Kongo comes undone against, but I do think he’s now past his prime and I actually fancy the younger, hungrier Jordan to get him to the mat and gradually wear him down with ground and pound to eventually produce a late stoppage.

Shawn Jordan to win by TKO in Rd3.

Brian Ebersole vs. James Head

‘A jack of all trades’ would be a good description for the vastly experienced Ebersole who’s got unorthodox yet reasonably effective striking, good wrestling and also poses a submission threat on the mat along with ruthless ground and pound.

In the past he has been finished several times by submission himself, but it seems he’s learned a lot from over 60 pro-fights as he’s shored up a lot of those holes in his game and now is extremely crafty on the floor and difficult to submit.

Head is decent on the feet, but isn’t the best on the ground which plays into Ebersole’s hands as that’s where he’s most likely to take this fight, and I think he’ll be able to finish him, probably via ground and pound in the second.

Brian Ebersole to win by TKO in Rd2.

Chris Clements vs. Matt Riddle

Bit of a strange fight to include on the main card, but that’s the result of all the injury call-offs that this card sustained in the build-up to fight night.

Clements is the more dangerous striker of the two, but Riddle’s got good wrestling and is a well-conditioned athlete and I think he’ll use to that to his advantage to grind out a decision victory.

Matt Riddle to win by decision.

Prelims:

Court McGee vs. Nick Ring

Roland Delorme vs. Francisco Rivera

Ryan Jimmo vs. Anthony Perosh

Bryan Caraway vs. Mitch Gagnon

Antonio Carvalho vs. Daniel Pineda

Mitch Clarke vs. Anton Kuivanen

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