Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Urijah Faber might have seen his last chance at gold.
"The California Kid" couldn't get it done at UFC 149, couldn't solve Renan Barao's length, couldn't get the fight to the ground, and couldn't sway the judges. Instead, it was Barao fighting from distance with jabs, kicks and long right hands making the impact. As a result, Barao captured the UFC interim bantamweight championship, cruising to a unanimous decision win by scores of 50-45, 49-46, 49-46.
The fight was not the exciting showcase many expected. Both Faber and Barao were somewhat tentative, keeping the action at a respectful distance. Faber's offense was fairly one-dimensional, heavy on a straight right hand. Given his reach disadvantage, that punch had little success, and Barao was able to hit him from the outside.
Later on, Faber tried to adjust by emphasizing his wrestling, but Barao easily stuffed the attempts and kept the fight standing, where he had an advantage.
Barao seemed well schooled for what was to come. At times in the past, he's overexerted himself early in looking for the finish and faded late, but in this one he fought smart and paced himself in anticipation of the 25-minute maximum.
"I came very well prepared for everything," Barao said afterward. "Faber is a great athlete, a great fighter, but I was very well prepared and that's the result."
Barao was overjoyed at the result, but given the lackluster fights that had come before the main event, he and Faber faced heavy boos even though their fight was more tactical battle than snoozer.
Barao will now take his 30-fight unbeaten stretch into a title match with champion Dominick Cruz when Cruz returns from his knee rehabilitation. He's 29-1 with 1 no contest overall.
For Faber, it was a fifth straight loss in major title fights dating back to his WEC days. Afterward, he said that he probably broke a rib during the fight. The loss dropped him to 26-6.
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