UFC 149: Is this Faber’s time to shine?
For Urijah Faber, it all comes down to 25 minutes in the cage against Renan Barao this weekend. Barao is all that is between Faber and the elusive UFC title that he is determined to attain.
Barao is one of the most dangerous fighters in the Bantamweight division and is on a 28 fight winning streak. Barao’s record currently stands at 28-1 (1 NC).
For Faber (26-5), his quest for a title has been a long road. The “Californian Kid” first won the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) featherweight championship in 2006, defeating Cole Escovedo at WEC 19.
Across the space of two years Faber had five successful title defenses, eventually losing to Mike Brown at WEC 36 in 2008.
Faber’s profile quickly grew in popularity through his explosive, exciting fight style, winning four of those five defenses via submission within the first two rounds. This included a win over future career rival and fellow The Ultimate Fighter coach Dominick Cruz.
While Faber maintained popularity, his fight game plan continued to let him down as he suffered another loss to WEC champion Mike Brown eight months after losing the belt. This was the first of many title shots to be been handed to Faber.
After his second attempt at the Featherweight title, facing Jose Aldo (prior to the absolution of the WEC promotion into the bigger UFC competition) at WEC 48, Faber decided to drop to the Bantamweight division, setting up a journey destined to take him back into the path of Dominick Cruz.
It only took one fight in the UFC promotion to set up the rematch of the Cruz/Faber rivalry, one that had Cruz in the driver seat and not ready to hand over his title.
While both fighters left it out in the cage, the footwork of Dominick Cruz proved too much for Faber who went on to win via unanimous decision but earned fight of the night honours.
The inclusion of both fighters on The Ultimate Fighter allowed fans to get inside the rivalry, however with an exception of a few moments; the season itself was pretty tame.
When Faber’s sister was caught in an accident, Cruz held out the olive branch to Faber, proving that their rivalry isn’t caught up in nastiness and hatred, but just two nice guys who don’t like each other.
Unfortunately with the injury to Cruz towards the end of the TUF season, Faber was not only left out of a fight, but it was another lost title chance.
That was until the announcement of the interim title, and the second announcement of Renan Barao as his competitor – something that UFC President Dana White even kept from the Californian native.
UFC 149 is Faber’s chance to shine again and at 33; the UFC interim title will not only prolong his career but will certainly add more to the Cruz/Faber story.
Barao, however, is a real threat to derail this dream; the Brazilian is a team mate of Jose Aldo and it would be certain that the Featherweight champ has passed on the knowledge of fighting Faber.
Given that Barao has more wins via submission, Faber won’t be scared to take it to the ground, where the Brazilian has the Brazilian Jiu-Juitsu black belt advantage.
The brown-belted Faber has had past history in submitting black belts, with Raphael Assunção submitted late in the third round of their WEC 46 fight.
The fight may be determined in the stand up, where Faber has faced trouble in the past against Aldo (leg kicks) and Cruz (footwork and speed).
One thing is for sure though- come Sunday (Australian time) we will see Faber more motivated than ever and ready to battle it out for an interim title and his time in the spotlight again.