Urijah Faber was once again denied a UFC title Saturday night, as “The California Kid” dropped a unanimous decision to new interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao in the UFC 149 main event.
Faber (Pictured, file photo) could not find his mark at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, as Barao kept the former WEC featherweight king on the outside while landing the cleaner shots in their five-round headliner.
“I knew he was very tough. I have a difficult time with guys who are really good at defending takedowns and really good at leg kicks,” said Faber at the post-fight press conference. “I was doing a pretty good job of avoiding the leg kicks, but I just wasn’t able to get off with my offense like I wanted to. I would have liked to have seen some scrambles on the ground and landed some more combos, but he was going a really good job of keeping the distance.”
Though Faber attempted to throw Barao by swapping stances and mixing up his striking with takedown attempts, the Brazilian stayed committed to dictating the bout’s pace from center cage, injuring Faber’s ribs early in the bout with a knee strike.
“I was a little shaken up. He got me with a knee either in the first round or early in the second,” said Faber. “I think I have a broken rib. I ate like three or four solid leg kicks, but it will be fine in three or four days. I just wasn’t as squirrely out there [as I would have liked to have been].”
Faber and Barao’s bout did not set the crowd on fire, as the American spent most of the fight trying to find the answer to Barao’s difficult style. Additionally, the main event contest followed two slow-paced bouts on the pay-per-view draw, a fact that likely contributed to the fans in attendance booing the elite bantamweights.
“You never want to hear boos, but you’re more concerned about the guy trying to take your head off [and give you] broken ribs and swollen legs and all that stuff,” said Faber of the crowd reaction. “I don’t ever want to be in a fight where I hear people booing, but I just had to do my best out there tonight. Barao fought a smart fight. He’s really good with his length, and he was able to keep me at bay. I would have liked to have gotten a little crazy in there, but jumping around like a wild man and doing something stupid probably wouldn’t have been the smartest thing. I was trying to punch him in the face, but I didn’t get it done.”
Faber was initially expected to face Dominick Cruz for the undisputed title before “The Dominator” was forced to withdraw from the bout with a torn ACL. As the interim belt now belongs to Barao, it appears Faber’s rubber match with Cruz will have to wait. Though the Team Alpha Male founder does not know what the future will hold for him, he says there is one place he will not visit any time soon: the flyweight division.
“[There is] no way [I could make flyweight]. I put on 18 pounds last night [after weigh-ins], so 135 is where I will be,” said Faber. “I fought a guy who is on the biggest win streak in active MMA right now and wasn’t able to get it done. I had a close fight with Dominick, who is considered the champ right now as well, so I’m right there. It’s just a matter of continuing to heal up and reassessing how I’m going to approach this thing.”