There’s no denying that “The California Kid” Urijah Faber is popular amongst most MMA fans. He’s had that ‘it’ factor for a number of years dating back to his championship days in the WEC. This weekend on UFC Fight Night on Fox Sports, 1 he hopes to continue his winning ways in a bantamweight clash against the relatively unknown but dangerous Yuri Alcantara.
Faber has his sights set on another title clash, but can’t afford to look past his opponent. It was a little alarming to hear him describe this weekend’s bout as a no-win situation for him. While Faber remains a well-known commodity, the path leading him back to a title shot is a little murky.
Current interim Bantamweight champion Renan Barao, who bested Faber in a title affair at UFC 149, will defend his title next month against Eddie Wineland at UFC 165. With champ Dominick Cruz green-lighted to return in early 2014 from a lengthy absence due to ACL injuries, it would seem he would be next in line for the winner.
Faber is marketable, and is usually involved in solid action fights, so a victory would definitely leave him with some attractive options. His skill set remains top-tier, and he’s responded nicely from the Barao defeat with solid performances against Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen. Keep in mind that the three losses Faber has suffered in the UFC have all been to champions: Barao, Cruz, and featherweight title holder Jose Aldo.
Faber still figures prominently within the Bantamweight fray, and Alcantara will be hoping to use the Faber name as a stepping stone for bigger opportunities. Alcantara does pack plenty of pop; he’s 28-4 with 24 of those victories by either KO or submission.
He’s not a fighter who usually is satisfied with taking things to the judges. He’s 3-1-1 during his UFC career, and most recently starched Iliarde Santos in the first round. He’s looked stronger since the move down to 135 from the 145 pound featherweight class. A victory over Faber won’t be easy but if he were to pull off the upset, it would immediately make him a household name.
While Faber clearly has been in with better competition during the course of his career, Alcantara does possess a knockout win over the red-hot Ricardo Lamas. It happened back in their WEC days. Lamas is widely expected to get the next title shot against Aldo thanks to four straight wins.
So, it’s a bantamweight battle between one of the more recognizable faces in MMA and a Brazilian looking to make a big push up the ladder. It certainly shapes up as in interesting matchup, and one where Faber must secure a victory to avoid falling out of the title picture altogether.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports