The UFC’s first trip to Calgary has had more ups and downs than an oil pump. A string of injuries have thrown the card’s original lineup completely out of whack. Gone are featherweight champ Jose Aldo, former light heavyweight champ Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, former heavyweight champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Yoshihiro ‘Sexyama’ Akiyama, Thiago Alves, Michael Bisping and Toronto’s Claude Patrick.
But UFC boss Dana White promises a great show at the Saddledome and he’s been slowly putting Humpty Dumpty back together. White has tapped the California Kid, Urijah Faber, to headline the event in a battle of 135-pounders. The former WEC featherweight champ will face Brazilian firecracker Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight title. Barao is riding a 29-fight unbeaten streak (he hasn’t lost since his first professional fight in 2005) and is a teammate and training partner of Aldo’s.
Longtime MMA fans will recognize the name Hector Lombard on the card. A veteran of Bellator and Pride as well as an Olympic judo fighter, the Cuban-born Lombard will make his octagon début against heavy hitter Tim Boetsch in a middleweight matchup that could lead to an eventual date with champ Anderson Silva.
Adding a bit more weight to the proceedings, French heavyweight Cheick Kongo will square off with Shawn Jordan, who replaces the injured Nogueira, while Canuck welterweight Chris Clements will make his second UFC appearance against Matthew Riddle. Clements is from Chatham, Ontario, and holds the record for fastest knockout in MMA history. His three-second KO of Lautaro Tucas is a YouTube sensation among MMA fans.
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