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Take Five: What to watch for at UFC 149

Urijah Faber looking to add UFC gold to his mantle of titles

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Sam Morris

Renan Barao flexes after making weight during the weigh in for UFC 143 Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 at Mandalay Bay.

The UFC deals with as many injuries as an emergency room doctor, so it’s meaningful when Dana White calls this weekend’s card the most ravaged event in the history of the promotion.

Out of the 10 fighters originally slated to appear on the main card of UFC 149, only two will compete Saturday night in Calgary, Alberta. Injuries scrapped seven planned matchups on the card.

But White, the UFC’s president, said cancellation was never an option. The UFC salvaged what it could to bring an event to Calgary for the first time.

Read the list below for five things to watch at UFC 149, which airs on pay-per-view at 7 p.m. after a preliminary card airing on FX and two fights streaming on Facebook.

    • UFC 132
      Photo by Justin M. Bowen

      'California Kid' fighting for another belt

      Like a department store’s clothing inventory, Urijah Faber seems to have an endless supply of title shots.

      Since losing his WEC featherweight belt in 2008, “The California Kid” has received three more championship bouts out of the blue corner. The downside? He’s 0-3 in those fights, meaning he’s lost four straight fights when a belt is on the line.

      The racks of opportunity have to run out sometime, right? Faber doesn’t think so — arguing that a title shot can’t be denied if he’s better than every other contender — but it’s a real concern if Renan Barao beats him in the main event of UFC 149 for the interim bantamweight title.

      “I felt like the last time I fought Dominick Cruz, I had a sense of urgency in there, and I know it was a close fight, but I felt like I did enough to win,” Faber said. “In my mind, this isn’t a fight I need to win. It’s just kind of like the rest of them, just go out there and fight until the bitter end.”

    • UFC 117
      Photo by Jeff Chiu/AP

      Arrival of 'Lightning' Lombard

      A mysterious new face arrives in town with the intent of challenging the incumbent ruler to a duel.

      Sounds like a western novel, or exactly what’s taking place in the UFC’s 185-pound division. The UFC made the biggest signing it could this year when former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard agreed to a contract.

      Lombard’s 20-fight win streak may indicate he’s ready to face UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva right away, but he needs a boost in notoriety first. Lombard needs to introduce himself to UFC fans, a luxury he’ll enjoy by facing Tim Boetsch in UFC 149’s co-main event.

      “I feel that after Saturday night, you guys are going to see what I’m all about,” Lombard said.

      If Lombard can get past Boetsch, who’s undefeated since dropping to middleweight, it’s only a matter of time before the foreign intruder gets a crack at the native king.

    • Weigh-in for UFC 114
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Local thriller

      If Las Vegas-based welterweight Matt Riddle ultimately fails to become one of the UFC’s most exciting fighters, it’s not going to be for a lack of trying.

      He’s going down swinging, probably in a wild fashion.

      “I just like the roar of the crowd,” Riddle told UFC.com, “and people pay money to see us fight, and I want to be as exciting as possible.”

      Riddle has fought twice in the last year: a UFC Fight Night 25 slugfest with Lance Benoist and a UFC 143 meeting of the same variety with Henry Martinez. The loss against Benoist earned Riddle a Fight of the Night bonus check, and the split-decision victory over Martinez easily could have done the same.

      In Calgary, Riddle meets an opponent tailor-made to assist in his quest for exhilarating fights in Chris Clements. Sit back for the pay-per-view opener and expect to see two 170-pound men stand in the pocket throwing everything they have at each other.

    • The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 Contestants
      Photo by Sam Morris

      The Ultimate cast

      Fans have griped that the talent on recent seasons of “The Ultimate Fighter” has declined from previous editions.

      “TUF” 14 veterans apparently dispute that idea. Since graduating from the reality show, the cast of the season that aired in late 2011 has gone an impressive 10-5 in the octagon.

      Two bantamweight members of the Team Bisping vs. Team Miller season strap on their gloves for preliminary bouts in Calgary. Roland Delorme and Bryan Caraway face Francisco Rivera and Mitch Gagnon, respectively, at UFC 149.

      “When I was younger and saw my first UFC, I knew exactly that I wanted to fight,” Delorme told UFC.com. “Everybody always aspires to be the best at what they're at. I aspired, too, but never thought I would make it.”

    • The Ulitmate Fighter 11 - Introduction
      Photo by Sam Morris

      The Ultimate rematch

      Speaking of “The Ultimate Fighter,” some unsettled business from the show’s 11th season will reach a conclusion at UFC 149.

      Court McGee and Nick Ring will rematch 2 1/2 years after fighting on the reality show. Ring won the opening-round “TUF” bout against McGee by majority decision but later had to pull off the show with an injury. McGee went on to snag the “TUF” championship crown.

      Ring says if he beats McGee on Saturday, he’ll consider himself the true Ultimate Fighter from that season. The suggestion angered McGee, who felt he won the first fight if it wasn’t for an erroneous decision by the judges.

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

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