This Saturday on December 14th, #2 ranked Bantamweight Uriah ‘the California Kid” Faber (29-6) will take on #3 ranked Bantamweight Michael “Mayday” McDonald (16-2) at UFC on Fox 9 “Johnson vs. Benavidez”. The current UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick “the Dominator” Cruz is scheduled to unify his belt against Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao at UFC 169, but this fight between Faber and McDonald could very well serve as a title eliminator and decide the next challenger for the Bantamweight title.
Urijah Faber has long been known as one of the most dangerous and well-rounded fighters in the sport of mixed martial arts. He possesses 7 KOs and 16 submission wins, and has defeated some very tough opponents in Dominick Cruz, Jeff Curran, Eddie Wineland, Takeya Mizugaki, Jens Pulver and Raphael Assuncao.
The once legendary Featherweight king has been unsuccessful in all four of his title fights since losing his WEC Featherweight belt at WEC 36 in 2008, with two of those unsuccessful attempts coming in the UFC. Having lost to both Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao in the UFC, are the California Kid’s days as a legitimate title contender over?
Faber is coming into this fight against McDonald on a three fight-winning streak over some top competition. At UFC 157 Faber swarmed Ivan Menjivar in the first round and defeated the Tristar MMA representative by rear naked choke in the first round. Faber looked equally as impressive in his fight against Scott “Young Guns” Jorgenson at the Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale. Faber dominated Jorgenson for three rounds and scored yet another rear naked choke submission, this one in the fourth round. Faber’s streak continued at UFC Fight Night 26 where Faber won a very well earned unanimous decision win over Iuri Alcantara.
Faber’s losses have all come to top competition. His first loss was to Tyson Griffin at Gladiator Challenge 42 back in 2005. Faber then went on to lose to Mike Thomas Brown twice in the WEC, the first time at WEC 36 and the second time at WEC 41. At WEC 48 Faber challenged then-champion Jose Aldo for his WEC Featherweight title. Faber was bludgeoned repeatedly by Jose Aldo’s leg kicks and dropped a unanimous decision loss. At UFC 132 Faber once again challenged for a title, this time for the UFC Bantamweight title held by Dominick Cruz. Faber was outpointed in his rematch with Cruz and lost via unanimous decision. Faber’s last loss was at UFC 149 against Nova Uniao standout Renan Barao for the crowning of the Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion. Faber was again outpointed and dropped another unanimous decision. The two things to take away from Faber’s losses are: (1) they are all to TOP competition and (2) he is never out of the fight, and is a tough guy to put away.
That being said, I believe that Faber will still serve as a viable title contender for years to come. Faber, as well as his Team Alpha Male stable mates (particularly Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez) have all looked significantly better under the tutelage of Duane “Bang” Ludwig who is now serving as the head trainer at Team Alpha Male. Working with Ludwig will only increase Faber’s striking capabilities and improve his chances at defeating Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao should he receive the next shot at the UFC Bantamweight title.
To get to that title shot, Faber must first win his fight against McDonald on Saturday. McDonald has proven that he is a top Bantamweight contender with career wins over Brad Pickett, Miguel Torres and Chris Cariaso. Mayday has finished all but two of his opponents, with 9 knockouts and 5 submissions to his credit. That being said, the Team Alpha Male representative is just too well rounded to lose to McDonald. Barao may have exploited a weakness in McDonald being his ground game. I expect Faber to spend the first round using his superior speed to keep McDonald out of range, because Mayday hits hard. Faber will turn things up in the second or third and use his NCAA Division I wrestling to drag the fight to the mat. At this point it’s only a matter of time before Faber gets the tap.