UFC Bantamweight Urijah Faber did his job this past weekend, notching his third victory in a row by winning a UD over Iuri Alcantara. Despite the win, Faber finds himself in a holding pattern. The weight class is still one of the most uncertain of any of the UFC’s divisions, as Faber has fought most of the top guys and clearly established himself as the top non-belt holder in the weight class. But what needs to happen to see Faber with a title around his waist in the UFC?
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Divisional champion Dominick Cruz has not been in action for nearly 2 years with an injury, and a third match with Faber has always been in the offing. Cruz is just 27 years old, but how he will be when he comes back is a mystery, and then there is the factor that two years away from the octagon make his name recognition very low. Cruz should be stripped and eased back into competition after such a long layoff.
The interim champion, Renan Barao, already took Faber apart once, and a rematch is not all that appealing. Barao is scheduled to meet Eddie Wineland, but his long term future hinges on a teammate. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo is certainly watching the match between Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis for the lightweight title, and should he abandon the featherweight division to fight as a ligtweight, Barao is expected to head north to Featherweight, leaving Faber as the top ranked bantamweight in the division.
Faber has stated he will be staying at 135 lbs, and if MacDonald returns as the champion, then we will see Faber get the first shot at him with Barao at Featherweight. Faber at 34 now, has waited 2 years to fight MacDonald a third time, and this will likely be his last chance at capturing the UFC gold that has eluded him in his career.
If MacDonald does not return, then the UFC would be forced to crown a new titlist at Featherweight and that would almost certainly mean Faber will be tapped for that match. Right now it looks like that match could be against young stud Michael MacDonald, who is also coming off an impressive victry this past weekend, submitting Brit Brad Pickett to further advance his case as the number 2 guy.
Faber is one of the highest paid fighters in the lower divisions, and the UFC needs to put him in relevant matches in order to get their money’s worth. For Faber as well, he has been in big fights his whole career, and a drop from being a contender or taking an average fight will not do. Unfortunately for Faber, he is waiting on Jose Aldo’s decision to move up a weight class or not. If that happens, all will fall into place for one last title run for the California Kid.