Renan Barao cruised to victory over Urijah Faber tonight in the main event of UFC 149, using his longer range and powerful leg kicks to his advantage in order to become the UFC’s new interim bantamweight champion.
The first few minutes of this interim title fight saw the two men feeling each other out, throwing out some strikes, but more to judge the distance than to cause serious harm.
Barao was the first to throw caution to the wind and threw a spinning back kick which just missed. Undeterred he fired off a high kick that sends Faber bouncing off the cage and then delivers a knee strike to the body that lands solidly.
That was certainly the highlight of the round and the action slows again. It’s not from a lack of trying on Faber’s part, he just seems to be struggling to find his range, while Barao misses with another spinning kick and looks to pepper his opponents leg with the occasional kick.
Round two sees Barao continuing to control the distance in this fight, staying at range and utilizing mainly leg kicks, similarly to his countryman Jose Aldo in his title fight with Faber.
Faber meanwhile continues to look light on his feet, but just can’t seem to get any offense going. At one stage he simply charges forward throwing lefts and rights, but Barao effortlessly moves out of danger.
In the final few minute Barao unleashes a flurry of punches and catches Faber with a nice left hook before returning to the leg kicks and they must surely be beginning to take their toll by now.
Barao starts the third nicely with another one of those leg kicks followed by a quick barrage of punches.
However, the outlook was also looking a little brighter in the striking department for ‘The California Kid’ in the third round, as he started to land with a few solid strikes for the first time including a straight punch down the pipe and later two nice uppercuts that seemed to catch Barao by surprise, though they didn’t appear to hurt him.
Meanwhile Barao continued working to the legs and the fact that Faber is constantly switching stances is just another indication that they are troubling him. Barao also did well to shot down two takedown attempts from Faber during the round.
Barao seems to be fighting well within himself and with three rounds already more than likely in the bank he’s not overextending himself in the fourth – simply sticking to the leg kick gameplan while also throwing out the occasional flurry to catch the judges eyes.
Faber’s lead leg was being iced in-between rounds and is now visibly showing the signs of damage from all those kicks, but he’s still trying his best to make something happen.
It’s easier said than done though and while he’s able to land the occasional punch, for the most part he just seems to be struggling to find a way to really consistently get into firing range on his opponent, and the fact his legs are hurt are taking the power out of his shots when he does.
The final round comes and Faber is in need of a definitive finish here if he wants that interim belt. Barao knows he’s on the home stretch though and is enjoying himself out there. He starts adopting a different stance, posting his lead hand straight out in front of him.
It’s unorthadox, but it seems to be working in that it’s keeping Faber at bay, and on a couple of occasions Barao just unleashes with a couple of quick strikes and they seem to catch Faber unawares.
Faber tries to close the distance with a superman punch followed by a right hand. It’s a nice attempt, but the punches don’t land hard on their target. Barao looks for more spinning strikes, but they don’t land and the fight comes to a close.
There’s no doubt about the winner here and Barao ends up winning by a wide margin on all three scorecards (49-46 x2, 50-45).