With a total of thirteen years of professional fighting experience under his belt, Urijah Faber has been an ever present at the forefront of mixed martial arts over the last decade, and with an impressive career record of 33-8, it is apt to say that the ‘California kid’ is a legend of the sport.
The Isla Vista native has achieved nearly all there is in the fight game, jumping between weight classes in order to challenge the best fighters out there. However, there is one major blip in the Californian’s career, that being his inability to claim UFC gold.
With a current record of 0-3 when challenging for the UFC belt, a loss in the early hours of Sunday morning would grant Faber the all-time worst record of any title challenger, which is something that he is fairly adamant won’t happen. With many experts viewing this as the 37-year-olds last chance at achieving UFC glory, Faber’s cause could seemingly not be greater, however, he refuses to see this as his last shot:
“People say the weirdest things,” Faber said.
“I mean, when somebody gets into the Super Bowl, should they stop trying to get back to the Super Bowl? You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve been at this sport for 13 years. I mean, people want to see me fight all sorts of people out there. Do you know how many times people have said that? There’s a story to every win and every loss.
Like I said, Dominick hasn’t fought one of the guys I’ve lost to. Zero. I’ve had twice as many fights. There’s a lot that needs to happen still and it’s all about this weekend. But there’s no last anything. I’m going to get that strap.”
In Faber’s way at UFC 199 is longstanding nemesis and fellow Californian Dominick Cruz (21-1), who after extended layoffs, having suffered multiple major injuries, has extremely impressed upon his returns, demolishing Takeya Mizugaki and dismantling TJ Dillashaw to reclaim his vacated belt.
This may well be the strongest Dominick Cruz that the team alpha-male product has faced, an enhanced version of that which was witnessed at WEC 26 or UFC 132. Yet, despite Cruz being the bookies odds-on favourite to succeed in defending his title this weekend, one would write off a fighter of Faber’s standing and ability at their own peril.
There are certain facets of this match-up which lean in Faber’s favour. For one, Faber possesses considerable knockout power and a killer instinct at this weight, having dropped Cruz to the canvas in their last encounter, with only three of his nine UFC victories going the distance.
This is in stark contrast to Cruz, who has become some what of a decision machine with five of his last six victories coming by way of decision dating back to his WEC days in 2010. Cruz, the tactician that he is, will have to be on his toes throughout the entirety of the bout, for any lapse in concentration could lead to an early finish.
While Cruz defeated Faber at UFC 132 with an unanimous decision victory, Faber was by no means outmatched as he managed to stick with the champ, holding his own for the majority with effective wrestling on display. At no point in the fight did either fighter gas, and with a highly rated ground game in his arsenal, Faber is a threat to Cruz in every aspect.
When speaking to the media Faber has maintained a focused view in not looking beyond this fight:
I don’t plan for after the fight; I may not make it. That’s the way I’m approaching the thing. I’m going to lay it all on the line. This is, by far, the most important fight. This one happening right now.”
…however, he must deep down be aware that this is in all likelihood his last opportunity to fight for the UFC belt.
A true class act in the sport and certain to be future UFC Hall of Famer, Faber will put every ounce and fiber of his being into the octagon this weekend, for an 0-4 record is an accolade which may yet prove to cast a shadow over his UFC, and indeed MMA legacy, for decades to come.
(sources via mmajunkie.com)