If you listen closely you can hear the sound of the dead horse being beaten when mixed martial arts media outlets talk about the UFC’s problems with developing stars. Beyond a few names, there have not been many individuals who have attained the ability to break through and reach some level of mainstream success. One fighter that has been able to make moves for himself while staying relevant within the sport, however, is the “California Kid” Urijah Faber. But what is the UFC doing with its “star?”
With a record of 29-6, it's clear that the Team Alpha Male standout finds himself in a constant position of success. However, Faber has not been able to grasp a UFC belt since moving over to the promotion in 2011. He's had two chances at the bantamweight crown, and dropped decisions to Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz. However, no other competitor has been able to put a blemish on his record. Not only has he continued to win, but he's done so in such a fashion that he should still be considered a top contender to the belt at any moment.
Of his four wins in non-title bouts, three have come by highlight reel stoppage. His recent bout against Iuri Alcantara at UFC Fight Night 26 showed that the former WEC featherweight champion knows how to come from behind and win. UFC matchmakers work hard to keep every fighter that they can relevant within the promotion. How can they continue to put Faber to work in a fashion that will keep him near top billing, while reducing his ability to knock off top contenders? The answer is a potential “super fight.”
After his win at UFC Fight Night 26, Faber mentioned that he's open to fighting in other weight classes if intriguing matchups are there. Well, the first name that comes to mind for the former featherweight is Frankie Edgar. A bout between these two high energy athletes would excite both mainstream and hardcore fans. Neither man would be considered a top contender at 145 with a win, but their efforts would surely win them some more fans, and create interest for both individuals in the future.
While that suggested super fight involves Faber moving up to a higher weight class, another would have him remaining at 135 to welcome a former bantamweight back to the weight class, UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson. “Mighty Mouse” established himself at 135 before claiming the top spot at 125 pounds, and he has mentioned moving back up to bantamweight for a super fight as well. Matching him with Faber would create a captivating bout, similar to Anderson Silva’s multiple forays up a weight class at light heavyweight. A matchup between these two former bantamweight title challengers would create a tremendous opportunity for a high-profile contest.
Urijah Faber may not hold a title, but he's reached a level of success that many mixed martial artists will not. The UFC has a fighter on its hands that can be marketed and built into a bigger star. Although matchmakers can't push him towards title bouts, or allow him to continue knocking off up and comers, giving him these two super fights will allow the promotion to get the most out of the “California Kid.”