Let’s be honest, none of expected that to go that well…
When UFC Hall of Famer and lighter weight class legend Urijah Faber announced that he was coming back to co-headline this past weekend in his hometown of Sacramento, California, many of us feared the worst. After all, Faber hadn’t fought in nearly three years and he would be facing a tough, younger fighter on a roll in Ricky Simon, and combat sports unretirements have been mostly disastrous for about a century.
But the only forty year old man in the world who can still accurately be called “The California Kid” defied all expectations when just seconds into the fight, Faber caught Portland’s Simon with an overhead right that sent him skittering to the canvas. Simon tried to scramble to his feet but Faber got to side control and pounded him out with elbows and punches until referee Mike Beltran stopped the fight just forty-six seconds into the first round, sending the Golden 1 Center and MMA Twitter into absolute bedlam.
Among all the tweets of MMA luminaries and fans, Fight Booth Editor-In-Chief Dave Reno fired off a tweet that may have summed what everyone was thinking, but unsure of saying.
Faber, 0-7 in his last 7 title bouts, calls out Henry Cejudo for a bantamweight title bout. He will get it and I will watch it. #UFCSacramento
— DW (@DW_Reno) July 14, 2019
At the first glance, it’s easy to call Dave’s tweet crazy. But remember, this is MMA. This is the UFC and crazy is exactly where we at right now. And then the more you unpack the situation the more you realize that Uriah Faber fighting for the UFC bantamweight title in the Year of Our Lord Conor McGregor 2019 maybe isn’t that crazy!
First off, UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo spoke this idea into motion a month ago when after his TKO defeat Marlon Moraes at UFC 238. “Triple C” did the smart thing-mentioning the names of the three most well known bantamweights-Faber, Cruz, and Cody Garbrandt. While this pissed of many of the purists who want the UFC rankings to mean something, it was a savvy business move by Cejudo. The three former champions are the most well known fighters to UFC fans and would probably represent the three biggest paydays for Cejudo at 135.
Of course, Cruz hasn’t fought since losing the bantamweight title to Garbrandt two and half years, twice pulling out of fights with severe injuries, and Cody, probably still the most marketable bantamweight and the man in the division with the most star potential, has three knockout losses in a row. Now that Faber has scored this huge knockout win over a good young fighter and quickly called out Cejudo, he becomes one of the 125 and 135 champ’s most viable options.
There are several things in the way of this fight taken place, first Cejudo still has the 125 pound title and Joseph Benavidez, Faber’s friend and former stablemate, established himself as the number one contender for that belt with his knockout win over Jussier Formiga last month. Also, he is still the last man to beat Cejudo. Then there’s Aljamain Sterling, who is red hot coming off four straight wins and established himself as the top contender with his win over Pedro Munoz at UFC 238. Cejudo is also coming off of shoulder surgery and may not fight again until next year.
Not too mention, beat the number fifteen guy in one minute does not a contender make. Yes, Faber was in the top ten when he retired in December 2016, but he lost decisions to Jimmie Rivera and Dominick Cruz before then. He has not earned this title shot. The idea that he jumps both Benavidez and Sterling for title shots is something just short of an injustice.
But Uriah Faber, perhaps even more after his retirement, is a star, and as longtime HBO boxing commentator Larry Merchant once said “stardom, like age has it privileges.” There are many champions, but very few stars. That’s why he’s here.” That is the biggest reason why Faber may get that one last crack at the gold.
So Faber getting a title shot may be unorthodox, and it is almost certainly unfair, but if it happens sometime in the next year, there is one thing it won’t be…