The Striking Clinic: 'Elusive and Dangerous' Urijah Faber


'Speed kills'

Or that's how the old addage goes and for the 'Calfiornia Kid'  that is very true At UFC 139: "Henderson vs. Shogun' Urijah Faber will be taking fellow bantamweight contender Brian Bowles for a chance to earn a rematch with UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

The former poster boy of the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) was thoroughly impressive against the 'Dominator' at UFC 132 and almsot won a razor-thin decision.

How was one of the smallest fighetsr at 145 pounds survived and now is a perennial number one contender at 135 pounds?

Take a number a number and enter the clinic after the jump!

The 'California Kid' has beaten some of the world's best in the WEC and even has  awin over UFC legend Jens Pulver. The excitement follows Faber like the teeny-boppers do in Sacramneto.

He is one of the sports toughest competitors as he made going five rounds with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo cool before Mark Hominick (UFC 129) and Kenny Florian (UFC 13) did. He fought his WEC rival Mike Thomas Brown with both his hands broken in their rematch from WEC 36.

Don't be fooled, Faber is not a knockout artists or a 'home run hitter' by any means. He hasn't had an official TKO or KO by strikes since 2006 when he stopped Bibano Fernandes at King of the Cage: 'All Stars'. On the same note don't be fooled that he is a 'pitter-patter' striker either.

He hist to hurt.

Faber is a very creative and 'risk versus reward striker' and that mentality is dangerous. At WEC 36 he got caught by Mike Thomas Brown when throwing a spinning back elbow and cost him his WEC featherweight championship.

Now elbows can be effective standing up as you may have saw at Cage Rage 16 when Anderson Silva disconnected Tony Fryklund from his senses. At Strikeforce: 'Barnett vs. Kharitonov" we saw Canadian prospect Jordan Mein destroy Evangelista Santos with vicious elbows. Another point i'd like to add, both Santos and Fryklund are world class strikers.

But how has Faber been so successful and hard to game plan for? The answer is speed.

Dominick Cruz has arguably the best footwork in all of mixed martial arts and uses his jab very well to ward off speedsters like Demetrius Johnson. Faber may be the swiftest and fastest guy on his feet in his stints in featherweight and bantamweight.

Faber utilizes a 'stick and move' game that has him constantly moving in and out, in and out. He'll come in throw a jab or straight, have you come back and he's already out of range. Now the stick (punch) is just as necessary as the move so, get in and get out.

Rewind your memories or 'Best of WEC' dvds to WEC 36 when UFC legend and former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver cut down to 145 pounds to face the WEC poster boy Urijah Faber. Now when Pulver was at his best he really should have fought at 145lbs but the division wasn't there so he compete at 155lbs. Faber was riding high and was getting the WEC some much deserved press.

This was one of the biggest fights if not most poignant fights in WEC history.

The age and speed were clearly in Faber's hands but the heart of Pulver was amazing to watch. For five long rounds we saw Faber pick apart 'Lil Evil' with great 'stick and move' and something you may never clued in on.

Faber got into these standing positions where his back was against the cage and he was in Pulver's pocket. Pulver was the better pure boxer compared to Faber but Faber used this position as an advantage. Now when you're facing multiple people what's the best position to be in? Your back up against a wall.

Remember the infamous story in Pat Miletich's book 'Blood in the Cage'? and the fight between his friends and Tito Ortiz' entourage. Where was Chuck Liddell? he had his back against a wall and was allegedly knocking people out. The back against the wall for a striker helps limit their opponents angles and keeps everything infront of you.

Faber would get cornered off against the cage and use a straight then push himself off the cage and get infront of Pulver. Being a kickboxer he could then use his legs to create damage. He'd 'stick and move'  and get out of harm's way. After this occurring a few times it got to the point where Pulver would get in this position and not even want to get fooled again.

One of the most natural things you either have or don't have is lateral movement or as the cool kids call it 'swag'. Fighting is very much like dancing and if you partner has more movement and better footwork-it shows. Faber is able to get out of most of these unwanted positions with his lateral or 'left to right' movement.

Another assest is his height because of how low he can get his crouch position to. He is only 5'3 in height so he can get pretty low so it's kinda hard for an opponent who is much taller like a Dominick Cruz to put much to gether without getting his hands lower to connect.

Ever looked at UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo and questioned why he is so straight in posture? It's a European boxing style. If you re-call Frank Mir's lead up interviews he used his more crouched Western boxing to deliver the left hook to capsize Kongo's night at UFC 107.

If you remember UFC 132 you can see that Cruz no matter what he did was going to be more 'erect' in posture in comparison to the much shorter Faber. Faber won many of the striking exchanges but could not pad up the points due to Cruz' ability to recover.

Another dominant variable of Faber is double jab going high to low then shooting a double leg or single leg take down. Many call it 'changing levels' where you go from high to low and keep your opponent guess and changing his blocking. Basically you are trying to gauge openings and UFC light heavyweight Rashad Evans shows this skill.

Faber most times will start high with a basic jab or a straight and get your hands high, once your hands go up he will shoot in on you. He did this very well with Cruz but he could not keep Cruz down. In his UFC debut against Eddie Wineland, a very good striker was taken down by Faber who was cautious of Wineland's striking prowess.

So don't blink at all during Faber-Bowles or you may miss some of the most exciting fighting at UFC 139. In a card with such heavy hitter such as Dan Henderson, Mauricio Rua, Cung Le and Wanderlei Silva this may be the back and forth barn burner. If Faber can duplicate his game plan and elusivness as he has in fights past he will get a sure shot at redemption with the 'Dominator'


Remember that will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 139, beginning with the preliminary card bouts on Facebook scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the evening this upcoming weekend.

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