Faber was a longtime featherweight champion in the WEC before a trio of losses to Mike Brown and Jose Aldo sent him out of the division. Since dropping to 135 pounds, Faber has compiled a record of 3-1. His most recent win was a submission victory over once-beaten Brian Bowles at UFC 139.
Renan Barao is the unsung hero of his division. He's riding a 28-fight win streak that excludes a 2007 no contest. Currently sitting 5-0 under the Zuffa umbrella, Barao was deemed the best replacement for champion Dominick Cruz, who was forced out of the fight due to a training injury.
Barao competed most recently with a shutout performance against former title contender Scott Jorgensen.
The first round was a standup battle that saw neither man ready to commit to much of an attack. Barao was quick and did more damage with his spin kicks, low kicks and punching combinations that countered Uriajh's attempt to charge in with a swarm. Score one for Barao.
Significant strikes landed throughout the bout saw Barao doubling the production of Faber one minute into Round 2. An eye poke gives us a brief break, but the action resumes without issue.
Channeling the gameplan of his Nova Uniao teammate Jose Aldo, Barao lit Faber up with leg kicks that left the former WEC champion limping after Round 2. Faber needs to win all three of the final rounds to win this one.
The third round opened in a flurry of strikes from both men. Urijah seems to have settled in a bit more and he seems more comfortable as the fight goes on. Continuing with leg kicks, Barao lands another pair, but the round is definitely closer than the first two. Urijah pushes the pace and a jab snapped Barao's head back. The close round saw little action in the final minute. I'd give it to Faber.
Championship rounds begin with a striking exchange that sees very little damage. Faber saw a takedown shucked off, and can't do anything with a clinch. The California Kid is certainly the more active fighter, but he is having trouble doing damage. Barao picked it up in the last 90 seconds with a pair of head kicks and one to the leg. Significant strike stats pop up on the screen at 101 for Barao and 54 for Faber. Another close round. I think that this one could go either way, but I'm leaning towards Barao.
Round 5 begins with a hug, and Faber likely needs a finish if he wants to hold a belt again. The biggest shots of the round saw Barao land a pair of hooks with two minutes on the clock. Using an extended hand to keep Faber at bay, Barao avoided damage and continued to throw big shots, although most of them did not connect. With 10 seconds left, Faber showed no killer instinct and remained hesitant. Barao may have gotten a clean sweep of the scorecards. The only round that I gave Faber was really close.
The crowd chants bull**** after the fight, although they have been quick to boo fighters all night long. This fight wasn't spectacular, but it was certainly better than the two that preceded it.
Barao wins the decision in an extremely emotional display after being announced as the new UFC Interim Bantamweight champion.
Stay tuned to Bleacher Report for all things UFC 149, including up-to-the-minute results and reaction pieces.