Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

UFC 149 Bantam boys plan Calgary beatdown

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CALGARY -- A fight between Urijah Faber and Renan Barao may not have been the first choice for the main event of UFC 149, but the two fighters are determined to make their battle in Calgary a memorable affair.

Faber and Barao will close Saturday night's card, and the winner will leave the Scotiabank Saddledome with the interim UFC bantamweight title.

"The reason people are going to be tuning in is to find out if he's better than I am," said Faber (26-5), a native of Sacramento, Calif. "I don't think that he is and he thinks that he's better than I am. We're going to beat the crap out of each other and find out. I plan on winning."

Also on the main card, middleweights Hector Lombard and Tim Boetsch will go toe-to-toe, while heavyweights Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan will square off.

Brian Ebersole takes on James Head while Chris Clements of London, Ont., will battle Matthew Riddle in welterweight fights.

"Not only are these fights good fights, but they mean something," said UFC president Dana White. "The two guys fighting in the main event are fighting for the title to see who fights Dominick Cruz for the undisputed championship."

Earlier this month at UFC 148, Faber was supposed to fight Cruz, who had to bow out due to a knee injury. The winner of Saturday's fight between Faber and Barao will get a shot to take on Cruz once he recovers.

Barao (30-1-0), of Rio de Janeiro, has gone 29 fights without a loss and he's confident he can extend that impressive streak against Faber.

"I feel fine, I feel comfortable and I'll be ready for Saturday," Barao said through an interpreter. "I've been working very hard for such a long time. I'm very happy and grateful for this opportunity and I'll make the most of it."

This is the first UFC event in Calgary, and White has vowed to arrange another fight card at the Saddledome for as early as next year.

"I've been waiting to come to Calgary for a long time," White said. "Canada has been a mecca for mixed martial arts for a long time. I love coming up here. I love Canada. It's a great, great country."

When it was announced in May, the UFC 149 main event featured Jose Aldo taking on Erik Koch for the featherweight title, with Mauricio Rua battling Thiago Silva in another featured bout. After Aldo and Silva went down with leg and back injuries respectively, the busted card had to be re-jigged.

"This is the business we're in," said White.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2012 C5

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