UFC 149 “Faber vs. Barao” on Saturday at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was arguably the most uneventful card of the year, and three of the four fighters who beat the odds did so in unspectacular fashion.
One underdog who defied the oddsmakers was Tim Boetsch, who defeated Hector Lombard by split decision after entering the cage as a +258 underdog; Lombard, who had won 20 consecutive bouts, was favored to win at -345. Although the decision was slightly controversial, with Lombard appearing to win the final two rounds, the Cuban judoka’s inactivity may well have cost him in the eyes of the judges. Boetsch did not mount much of an offense, either, but kicks and punches appear to have sealed the deal, as he handed Lombard his first defeat since November 2006.
The heavyweight showcase between Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan was a virtual tossup according to the oddsmakers, with Jordan as a -130 favorite and Kongo dead even. This was the second closest fight on the card according to the odds, right after Nick Ring-Court McGee. Kongo won by holding Jordan in the clinch for the majority of the bout. Perhaps it would have gone differently had referee Yves Lavigne separated the fighters as they stalled against the cage, but perhaps the reason the Frenchman chose that strategy was to eke out a decision win.
Next on the list was James Head, who defeated Brian Ebersole by split decision despite his +285 odds, compared to Ebersole’s -355. What was most striking about this fight was not how sharp Head looked but how poorly Ebersole performed. Neither fighter ever truly let his hands go, but Head landed a few more strikes and held his own in the clinch, which allowed him to pull out the victory and halt Ebersole’s 11-fight winning streak.
The most exciting fighter to beat the odds at UFC 149 was Antonio Carvalho. He came in as a +175 underdog -- his opponent, Daniel Pineda, stepped in the Octagon at -215 -- perhaps because he lost in his UFC debut to Felipe Arantes in such underwhelming fashion. Pineda was 2-1 in the UFC heading into the featherweight matchup. Nonetheless, it only took “Pato” 71 seconds to showcase his improved striking game, as he landed a brutal right hook and followed up with uppercuts to become the first fighter to score a knockout victory over “The Pit.”