Barao puts big streak on line at UFC 149

Boxers with lengthy winning streaks are nothing new. In the unpredictable, 4-ounce glove world of mixed martial arts, however, such extended runs are far more rare.

Renan Barao’s stretch of 29 fights without a loss – 28 wins and one no-decision – since dropping his professional debut back in 2005 is downright amazing.

Urijah Faber says the streak has to end at some point, and he believes he’s the one to end it when the two meet for the Ultimate Fighting Championship interim bantamweight title at UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta on Saturday.

“He’s human just like anyone else. That long streak is going to come to an end, and I’m the one to do it,” Faber said on a conference call. “I mean all these long streaks come to an end. There’s not a guy who’s ended with a streak this long.”

It won’t be an easy task. Barao, 25, is a feared and active striker who possesses outstanding takedown defense and has submitted 13 opponents in his career.

Despite the fact Barao is 3-0 in the UFC and had two fights in World Extreme Cagefighting, where Faber was the longtime champion, Faber questions some of the competition Barao has faced during the streak.

“Barao has a good record and is obviously very talented, but I’ve been fighting at a different level,” Faber said. “He’s got this great record, but I’ve fought better guys and beaten better guys than he has. A lot of people seem intimidated by this guy, but I’m not. He’s got skills and he loves to brawl, but none of that worries me. I’m dragging him into deep water. Like I’ve said, I’m the best he’s ever fought, but he’s not the best I’ve fought.”

The fight headlines a pay-per-view card on Saturday night.

■ WAITING GAME FOR WEIDMAN – Despite a devastating knockout victory over Mark Munoz last week in San Jose, Calif., the future is still unclear for Chris Weidman.

The counter-elbow finish propelled the unbeaten 28-year-old from super prospect to breakout star and legitimate middleweight contender in the UFC.

What the highlight-reel knockout has not done is guarantee Weidman the title shot he covets against Anderson Silva.

“I don’t know. We’ve got to see,” UFC president Dana White said. “The 185-pound division is getting very interesting. (Weidman’s) fight changed a lot of things. We’ll have to see how this whole thing shakes out.”

Hector Lombard, who makes his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch on Saturday’s card, could emerge as the leading candidate with an impressive win.

■ NEW TUF COACHES – Heavyweights Shane Carwin and Las Vegan Roy Nelson have been announced as the coaches for Season 16 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Carwin has lost two straight fights, the only two losses of his career, but has been limited due to several injuries. He dropped a heavyweight title fight to Brock Lesnar in July 2010 and a No. 1 contender fight to current champ Junior dos Santos in June 2011.

He took to his blog to let the fun-loving Nelson know he plans on making the coaching gig and eventual fight between the two a business endeavor.

“I know Roy likes to be the UFC’s Jester but he better know this is not a joke for me,” Carwin wrote. “He can keep striving for being average, I am pushing myself and those around me to find the American Dream. The dream that comes from lots of hard work and sacrifice, no gimmicks necessary.”

Filming on the season, which will return to a taped format, will begin in early August. The episodes start airing in September on FX (Cable 24).

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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