Renan “Barao” Pegado last tasted defeat in his professional debut on April 14, 2005. Twenty-eight victories -- and one no contest -- later, the Brazilian stands just one fight away from UFC gold. Players in Sherdog.com’s MMA Pick’Em fantasy game like his winning streak to continue, as 53 percent have chosen him to defeat former WEC featherweight titlist Urijah Faber in the UFC 149 main event in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on Saturday. The winner will receive the promotion’s interim bantamweight belt.
Barao has gone 5-0 during his time in the UFC and WEC, most recently notching a unanimous decision victory against Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143. The Nova Uniao product, who also owns Octagon triumphs against Brad Picket and Cole Escovedo, has finished 19 of his 28 victims by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
Faber’s move to 135 pounds has proven fruitful so far, with victories against Eddie Wineland and Brian Bowles in the UFC. He came up short, however, in his first title shot against Dominick Cruz at UFC 132, falling to “The Dominator” via unanimous decision.
UFC 149 takes place at the Scotiabank Saddledome and also features a key middleweight showdown between Hector Lombard and Tim Boetsch. Despite Boetsch’s edge in Octagon experience, a whopping 85 percent of participants are siding with Lombard in the bout. The former Bellator Fighting Championships 185-pound king, Lombard brings a 25-fight unbeaten streak into his Octagon debut. “Lightning” last competed at Bellator 58 in November, knocking out Trevor Prangley in the second round.
Boetsch , meanwhile, has found a home at middleweight, going 3-0 since dropping from 205 pounds last year. “The Barbarian” owns victories over Kendall Grove, Nick Ring and Yushin Okami in his new weight class.
Other Pick’Em trends for UFC 149:
• A solid 79 percent of users favor 16-time Octagon vet Cheick Kongo against Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts product Shawn Jordan. Jordan is a former LSU fullback who took the fight on short notice when Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira withdrew from the contest. He won his promotional debut against Oli Thompson in March;
• Brian Ebersole is by far the most lopsided favorite on the card, as 98 percent have selected the 31-year-old to defeat James Head. Ebersole is unbeaten in four UFC appearances, most recently besting T.J. Waldburger at UFC on FX 4 last month, while Head submitted Papy Abedi in his last outing at UFC on Fuel TV 2;
• The majority of competitors (72 percent) like Chris Clements to defeat Matt Riddle in a welterweight scrap. A Team Tompkins protégé, Clements defeated Keith Wisniewski at UFC 145 in his promotional debut. Riddle’s entire nine-fight professional career has come under the UFC banner. Most recently, he stopped a two-fight losing skid with a split-decision triumph against Henry Martinez at UFC 143;
• In preliminary bouts, users favor Court McGee (71 percent) over Nick Ring, Roland Delorme (88 percent) over Francisco Rivera, Anthony Perosh (55 percent) over Ryan Jimmo, Mitch Gagnon (64 percent) over Bryan Caraway, Daniel Pineda (90 percent) over Anthony Carvalho and Anton Kuivanen (83 percent) over Mitch Clarke.