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UFC 149 breakdown, betting odds and picks

Bettors like Renan Barao to win interim bantamweight title over Urijah Faber

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Urijah Faber is seen octagon-side at UFC 148 Saturday, July 7, 2012 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Urijah Faber’s days carrying the distinction as mixed martial arts’ most popular fighter in a lighter weight class might be coming to an end.

That’s what the betting market is indicating, anyway. Faber’s interim bantamweight championship bout against Renan Barao at Saturday’s UFC 149 pay-per-view card in Calgary, Alberta, opened as a pick’em in offshore sports books.

A couple short months later, Barao is the resounding favorite after barrels of money came in on the Brazilian and against “The California Kid.”

The Las Vegas Sun picks panel doesn’t agree with the movement. Three of the five prognosticators sided with Faber to win his first major title since holding the WEC featherweight belt from 2007-2008.

Check below to find the picks for the main event and the 10 other fights from Las Vegas Sun’s Case Keefer (54-36 year to date), KSNV’s Kevin West (57-33), ESPN Radio’s Steve Cofield (56-34), ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto (54-36) and Las Vegas Sun’s Ray Brewer (48-42) as well as a breakdown and betting odds for all the bouts.

Renan Barao

  • Age: 25
  • Height: 5’6''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 3-0
  • MMA record 28-1
  • Out of: Rio
  • Betting line: -200

Urijah Faber

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’6''
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 26-5
  • Out of: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Betting line: +160

Interim Bantamweight Championship Bout

Main Event

Last fight: Unanimous-decision victory over Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143.

Punch list: “Pegado” owns the longest winning streak in the UFC. He’s unbeaten in his last 28 fights, dating back to his MMA debut in 2005. He’s fast, powerful on the feet and slick on the ground. The Brazilian has shown no weakness since bringing his career to America two years ago. When Cruz tore his ACL, he was an easy and obvious choice to slide in against Faber for the interim title.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Faber

Cofield: Barao

Last fight: Submitted Brian Bowles in the second round at UFC 139.

Punch list: Is “The California Kid” slowing down and showing signs of his of wear after a decade in the sport? That’s a question many are asking, but it looks like the answer is a resounding ‘no’. Faber routed Bowles, a former champion, and was extremely competitive with champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 132. He’s devastated a third bout with Cruz fell through, but beating Barao is the first step to making sure the rubber match happens when the champion gets healthy.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Barao

Brewer: Faber

Okamoto: Faber

Tim Boetsch

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 186
  • UFC record 6-3
  • MMA record 15-4
  • Out of: Sunbury, Penn.
  • Betting line: +250

Hector Lombard

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 5’9''
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 31-2-1
  • Out of: Coconut Creek, Fla.
  • Betting line: -300

Middleweight Bout

Co-Main Event

Last fight: Third-round knockout victory over Yushin Okami at UFC 144.

Punch list: A drop to middleweight has officially saved Boetsch’s fledging UFC career. He was 2-3 as a UFC light heavyweight, but has gone 3-0 since cutting to 185 pounds. The last victory, however, required considerable drama. Okami was way ahead on the scorecards entering the final round before Boetsch came back for a stunning knockout in Japan. “The Barbarian” is a major underdog against Lombard, but the odds were even more against him when he faced Okami.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Lombard

Cofield: Lombard

Last fight: Second-round TKO win over Trevor Prangley at Bellator 58.

Punch list: Right behind Barao’s winning streak in terms of length is Lombard’s. The former Olympic judoka from Cuba has strung together 20 straight victories, not losing since 2007. But he can’t escape the constant questions about the competition level of his opponents fighting outside of the octagon. Everyone will finally begin to see how Lombard stacks up against the best now that his Bellator contract expired, enabling the UFC to sign him.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Lombard

Brewer: Boetsch

Okamoto: Lombard

Shawn Jordan

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 6’0’’
  • Weight: 245
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 13-3
  • Out of: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Betting line: -135

Cheick Kongo

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’4’’
  • Weight: 229
  • UFC record 10-5-1
  • MMA record 17-6-2
  • Out of: Paris
  • Betting line: +105

Heavyweight Bout

Featured Contest

Last fight: Defeated Oli Thompson by second-round TKO at UFC on FX 2.

Punch list: No one is going to dispute that Jordan has looked impressive since the start of 2011, going 4-1. The question is whether he’s ready to knock off a well-established veteran of the sport. Kongo is the first one he’s faced. Jordan, who won a national championship ring as a fullback on LSU’s football team, feels his time training with Greg Jackson has him prepared and poised to make an impact on the division.

Staff picks:KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Kongo

Cofield: Jordan

Last fight: Knocked out by Mark Hunt in the first round at UFC 144.

Punch list: The loss in his last bout snapped an unbeaten streak, consisting of three wins and one draw, dating back to 2009. Kongo’s chin and fight IQ remain a concern. Technical striking and wrestling are his strengths. An impressive win here could make the Hunt loss forgettable and return the Frenchman to a couple victories away from title contention.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Jordan

Brewer: Kongo

Okamoto: Jordan

James Head

  • Age: 34
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-1
  • MMA record 8-2
  • Out of: Oklahoma City
  • Betting line: +300

Brian Ebersole

  • Age: 31
  • Height: 6’0''
  • Weight: 171
  • UFC record 4-0
  • MMA record 50-14-1
  • Out of: Sydney
  • Betting line: -400

Welterweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Bout

Last fight: First-round submission victory over Papy Abedi at UFC on FUEL TV 2.

Punch list: The victory over Abedi was one of the bigger upsets of the year. The former middleweight may have found his rightful home at welterweight. Head works full-time as a petroleum engineer, but he’ll get a significant UFC promotion if he can beat Ebersole.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Ebersole

Cofield: Ebersole

Last fight: Defeated T.J. Waldburger by unanimous decision at UFC on FX 4.

Punch list: Ebersole contemplated a move to lightweight after beating Waldburger last month. Those thoughts moved aside, however, when an injury gave him a last-minute fill-in opportunity to face Head. Always game for a fight, Ebersole couldn’t turn down an opportunity to win his fifth straight at welterweight.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Ebersole

Brewer: Ebersole

Okamoto: Ebersole

Matt Riddle

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 6-3
  • MMA record 6-3
  • Out of: Las Vegas
  • Betting line: -150

Chris Clements

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 170
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 11-4
  • Out of: London, Ontario
  • Betting line: +120

Welterweight Bout

Pay-Per-View Bout

Last fight: Beat Henry Martinez by split decision at UFC 143.

Punch list: Riddle seems more concerned with delivering exciting fights than winning lately. That’s not necessarily a knock on “The Ultimate Fighter” 7 alum, just an observation. He has above-average wrestling ability, but would rather slug it out on the feet in hopes of hearing the crowd’s roar.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Clements

Cofield: Clements

Last fight: Split-decision win over Keith Wisniewski at UFC 145.

Punch list: In his UFC debut, Clements extended his winning streak to five in a row. Clements makes opponents pay if they allow him to find his range. The Canadian’s striking is his strong suit, as every win outside of the UFC has come by knockout. Three of his four losses are by submission.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Clements

Brewer: Clements

Okamoto: Riddle

Nick Ring

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 6’1’’
  • Weight: 185
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 12-1
  • Out of: Calgary, Alberta
  • Betting line: -135

Court McGee

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 184
  • UFC record 3-1
  • MMA record 13-2
  • Out of: Orem, Utah
  • Betting line: -105

Middleweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Tim Boetsch at UFC 135.

Punch list: Ring gets a rematch he’s amped up for in front of his hometown crowd. He had to get surgery to repair a torn ACL after the first fight with McGee, one of three operations he’s undergone on his knees. Injuries are a constant pest for Ring, who hasn’t fought in nearly a year.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Ring

Cofield: McGee

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Constantinos Philippou.

Punch list: Despite winning the 11th season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, McGee dropped a majority decision to Ring while on the show. He received a second-chance that he made the most of in the competition. He went on a winning streak that didn’t end until he met Philippou in Australia.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: McGee

Brewer: McGee

Okamoto: Ring

Francisco Rivera

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 134
  • UFC record 0-2
  • MMA record 8-2
  • Out of: Buena Park, Calif.
  • Betting line: -170

Roland Delorme

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 134
  • UFC record 2-0
  • MMA record 8-1
  • Out of: Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Betting line: +140

Bantamweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Defeated Alex Soto by unanimous decision at UFC on FUEL TV 3.

Punch list: Rivera got another chance in the UFC when an injury left Soto in need of a late replacement two months ago. “Cisco” showcased his striking by battering Soto, but couldn’t get the stoppage. It broke a streak of three straight wins by knockout.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Delorme

Cofield: Rivera

Last fight: First-round submission victory over Nick Denis at UFC on FOX 3.

Punch list: His comeback against Denis in East Rutherford, N.J., two months ago is in the running for round of the year. Denis rocked Delorme before he recovered to grapple his way to a win by rear-naked choke. Submissions are what Delorme does best.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Delorme

Brewer: Delorme

Okamoto: Rivera

Anthony Perosh

  • Age: 40
  • Height: 6’3’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 3-3
  • MMA record 12-6
  • Out of: Sydney
  • Betting line: -105

Ryan Jimmo

  • Age: 30
  • Height: 6’2’’
  • Weight: 205
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 16-1
  • Out of: Edmonton, Alberta
  • Betting line: -125

Heavyweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Defeated Nick Penner by first-round TKO at UFC on FX 2.

Punch list: “The Hippo” recently turned 40. Seems like a strange age for a fighter to start hitting his stride, but Perosh has won three in a row. He finished all three opponents — Penner, Cyrille Diabate and Tom Blackledge — despite underdog status.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Perosh

Cofield: Jimmo

Last fight: Unanimous-decision win over Rameau Sokoudjou at Maximum Fighting Championships 31.

Punch list: Well known on the Canadian MMA circuit, “Big Deal” joins the UFC with the promotion putting on a show three short hours from his home. Jimmo competed in karate for decades before using those skills to kick start a foray into fighting.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Jimmo

Brewer: Perosh

Okamoto: Perosh

Mitch Gagnon

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’5”
  • Weight: 135
  • UFC record 0-0
  • MMA record 8-1
  • Out of: Sudbury, Ontario
  • Betting line: +170

Bryan Caraway

  • Age: 27
  • Height: 5’9’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 1-0
  • MMA record 16-5
  • Out of: Sacramento, Calif.
  • Betting line: -200

Bantamweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: First-round submission victory over David Harris at Ringside MMA 12.

Punch list: He’ll want to avoid getting into a wrestling match with Caraway. But even if it happens, Gagnon is equipped with some weapons off of his back. All eight of his victories have come by submission, including seven in the first round.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Caraway

Cofield: Caraway

Last fight: Beat Dustin Neace by submission in the first round at “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 finale.

Punch list: Caraway was already a better wrestler than most of the competition at featherweight. He should be downright dominant in that department now that he’s dropping to bantamweight. “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 veteran’s last stint in a Zuffa-owned promotion, the WEC, went unceremoniously with an 0-2 mark.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Gagnon

Brewer: Gagnon

Okamoto: Caraway

Daniel Pineda

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’7’’
  • Weight: 145
  • UFC record 2-1
  • MMA record 17-8
  • Out of: Houston
  • Betting line: -260

Antonio Carvalho

  • Age: 33
  • Height: 5’8’’
  • Weight: 144
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 13-1
  • Out of: Oshawa, Ontario
  • Betting line: +200

Featherweight Bout

FX Prelim

Last fight: Lost to Mike Brown by unanimous decision at UFC 146.

Punch list: Most fighters in the UFC boast about fighting “anyone, anytime, anywhere”. Pineda actually means it. He took this fight on short notice, which doesn’t sound all that out of ordinary except it’s his fourth bout of the year. “The Pit” might win the UFC’s Employee of the Year award at the end of 2012.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Pineda

Cofield: Carvalho

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Felipe Arantes at UFC 142.

Punch list: Carvalho faded in his UFC debut six months ago to drop a decision in Brazil. He’ll likely need a win here to keep his job with the UFC. If he can keep his distance, Carvalho may have an edge in technical striking against Pineda. He was supposed to face George Roop in this bout, before an injury sidelined the veteran.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Pineda

Brewer: Pineda

Okamoto: Pineda

Anton Kuivanen

  • Age: 28
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 16-5
  • Out of: Helsinki, Finland
  • Betting line: -130

Mitch Clarke

  • Age: 26
  • Height: 5’10’’
  • Weight: 155
  • UFC record 0-1
  • MMA record 9-1
  • Out of: Edmonton, Alberta
  • Betting line: Even

Lightweight Bout

Facebook Prelim

Last fight: Unanimous-decision loss to Justin Salas at UFC on FUEL TV 1.

Punch list: The UFC’s only Finnish fighter looks to rebound from his first loss in the last four years. Kuivanen counts athleticism among his strongest traits. He played hockey and soccer seriously before shifting to boxing, and ultimately, MMA.

Staff picks: KSNV and ESPN Radio

West: Clarke

Cofield: Kuivanen

Last fight: Second-round knockout loss to John Cholish at UFC 140.

Punch list: It’s always interesting to see how a fighter comes back from his first loss. That’s a conundrum Clarke will look to solve in Calgary. He was a step ahead of everyone he faced in the Alberta regional scene, but looked overmatched at times against Cholish.

Staff picks: Las Vegas Sun and ESPN.com

Keefer: Clarke

Brewer: Kuivanen

Okamoto: Kuivanen

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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