CALGARY - Renan Barao ran his winning streak to 19 with a unanimous decision over Urijah Faber at UFC's debut in Calgary on Saturday night.
The Brazilian bantamweight outlasted his opponent in the five-round main event of UFC 149 in front of a sellout crowd at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
"I was well prepared," said Barao through an interpreter right after his victory. "I'm very happy. Faber is a great athlete."
With the win, Barao now holds the interim bantamweight title and has put himself in position to take on current belt holder Dominick Cruz.
"I'm going to train as hard as I can once again, as I did for this fight, to have another win," said Barao (31-1), who ran his unbeaten streak to 32 — he had one fight declared a no contest during that span — since losing his first professional fight back in 2005.
Earlier this month at UFC 148, Faber was supposed to fight Cruz, who had to bow out due to a knee injury. Instead, Faber accepted the fight against Barao.
"Barao fought a smart fight," said Faber, who added that he may have suffered a broken rib early in the fight. "I also was a little (shaken) up. He got me with a knee."
In what was billed as the co-main event, middleweight Tim Boetsch earned a split-decision victory over Hector Lombard, who was making his UFC debut.
"I was glad to give him his first loss though I wasn't too thrilled with how things went," Boetsch said. "I landed a few strikes. My foot is a testament to that. Hector is heavy-handed and a tough fighter. He's a power striker but I knew that and was able to put together a good strategy to beat him."
Matthew Riddle kicked off the main card with a submission win over Chris Clements of London, Ont. After Riddle executed a perfect arm triangle, Clements tapped out at 2:02 of the third round.
"I tried to give it all I could but I could hardly breathe," Clements said. "I couldn't catch my breath and it hurt me in the end."
For his efforts, Riddle earned Submission of the Night and earned a bonus of US$65,000.
Also on the main card, welterweight James Head won a split decision over Brian Ebersole, while Cheick Kongo earned a unanimous decision over Shawn Jordan in a battle of heavyweights. Fans at the Saddledome expressed their displeasure of both bouts by reigning down a chorus of boos several times during the action.
During the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White said he wasn't pleased with many of the fights, especially the one between Kongo and Jordan.
"I think that Cheick Kongo and Jordan pushed against the fence for three rounds and I think that the ref let them do it," White said. "This isn't the ultimate clinching championship. It's the fighting championship."
Edmonton's Ryan (Big Deal) Jimmo made a spectacular statement with his right fist earlier in the night, taking just seven seconds to knock out Anthony Perosh in their light heavyweight preliminary round.
The quick KO was just one second off of tying the UFC record held by Duane Ludwig, and it earned Jimmo US$65,000 for Knockout of the Night.
In the main bout of the preliminary card, Calgary's Nick (The Promise) Ring didn't disappoint his supporters in the capacity crowd, earning a unanimous decision over Court McGee.
"I never felt so much support in my life. I can't thank the fans enough for cheering me on and giving me that extra bit of energy I needed," Ring said. "I gave everything I had out there. Even when I was hurting I kept going and put it all out there. I was going to keep fighting until the end."
In other preliminary-round action, Antonio Carvalho of Oshawa, Ont., scored a TKO victory over Daniel Pineda at the 1:11 mark of the first round of their featherweight fight.
"I guess I do have some fights left in me," said Carvalho, who had thought about quitting leading up to his first-ever UFC victory. "Two weeks ago I thought I was overtraining and I had to stop training for four days. I asked myself if I wanted to do this and if I had fights left in me."
Meanwhile, bantamweight Mitch Gagnon of Sudbury, Ont., lost by submission in the third round to Bryan Caraway. However, it was deemed as Fight of the Night and both fighters earned $65,000 for their efforts.
Also, Edmonton's Mitch Clarke suffered a split-decision loss to Anton Kuivanen in their lightweight fight, while Winnipeg's Roland Delorme was knocked by Francisco Rivera at 4:19 of the first round of their bantamweight bout.