Two of the top ranked bantamweights in the world will collide tomorrow night (April 13, 2013) as Urijah Faber takes on Scott Jorgensen in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Faber has reached the peak of the sport, but after losing his WEC title, he's been unable to reclaim his top spot. That hasn't stopped him from crushing everyone but the champion, however, as he's steamrolled every other top bantamweight contender including a submission of Ivan Menjivar in his last bout.
Jorgensen was coming off the first knockout loss of his career heading into his last bout, but he stepped up and smashed John Albert to get back to his winning ways. When the event needed a main event after the title fight fell off, he stepped up to fight his friend Faber in the headlining bout.
Record: 27-6 overall, 3-2 in the UFC
How he got here: After cutting his teeth in the Gladiator Challenge and King of the Cage promotions on the local California circuit, Urijah Faber had compiled an 11-1 record and was given a title shot in his WEC debut against champion Cole Escovedo, which he won after a second round corner stoppage.
Faber would defend his title five times over the next two years, becoming the face of the organization in the process during a 12 fight winning streak. At WEC 36, he would lose his title to Mike Brown after a spinning back elbow attack backfired and he was knocked out in the first round. Faber would earn another shot at Brown and in one of 2009's best fights, he'd continue battling despite breaking both hands early in the match, choosing instead to lunge forward with elbow strikes although he would lose a decision.
After Brown lost his title to Jose Aldo, all eyes were on Faber to take on the young Brazilian at the first ever WEC pay-per-view. "The California Kid" would fall short to Aldo in a gritty performance, absorbing some awful leg kicks for five straight rounds. Faber made the decision to drop to bantamweight afterwards.
At 135 pounds, Faber has gone 4-2 including a unanimous decision victory over former bantamweight champ Eddie Wineland at UFC 128 in his debut with the promotion. He gave champion Dominick Cruz the toughest fight of his bantamweight career at UFC 132, but came up short in the decision.
Faber earned another shot at "The Dominator" with a devastating victory over former champion Brian Bowles, and after a season of hype on The Ultimate Fighter, Cruz went down with an injury. Instead, he settled for an interim title shot against Renan Barao, which he again lost via unanimous decision last summer.
"The California Kid" got back to his winning ways against Ivan Menjivar, taking his back standing and choking the veteran out. He returned with a very quick turnaround afterwards.
How he gets it done: Faber needs to push the pace. He's a cardio machine and has all the tools to really make this a rough day for Jorgensen.
Faber should go after "Young Guns" both on the feet and with takedowns, really making the former WEC title challenger work all over the Octagon.
Jorgensen is tough as nails, but he can be hurt, and has been hurt relatively recently against Wineland. Faber has the power in his punches to wobble the veteran and he's strong enough in the grappling department to not only take him down, but to really punish the Boise State alum with ground and pound and even submissions.
Pressure will be key here as Jorgensen is not the fastest bantamweight and he can be taken advantage of if Faber just keeps coming at him. Eventually, he'll either make a mistake, or he won't be fast enough to keep up with Faber and he'll wilt..
Record: 14-6 overall, 3-2 in the UFC
Key Losses: Eddie Wineland (UFC on FX 3), Dominick Cruz (WEC 53), Renan Barao (UFC 143)
How he got here: Scotty Jorgensen was a successful wrestler in college, competing in Division I at Boise State and he transitioned to mixed martial arts in 2006. In just his sixth professional bout, he was competing in the WEC at bantamweight.
"Young Guns" wasn't given the easy rode either, getting thrown to the likes of Damacio Page, Kenji Osawa and Antonio Banuelos in three of his first four WEC bouts. His controversial split decision loss to Banuelos lit a fire under him and he reeled off five consecutive victories to earn a title shot against champion Dominick Cruz in the final WEC event ever late last year.
Jorgensen was a step slow against Cruz and was beaten to the punch badly over the course of five rounds, losing a dominant unanimous decision. He got back on track against Ken Stone in his last bout, knocking American Top Team fighter out cold from within his full guard on the ground.
Next "Young Guns" took on veteran bantamweight and former WEC title challenger Jeff Curran and outwrestled his opponent over the course of three rounds to score a unanimous decision. He hit a bump in the road in elite bantamweight Renan Barao, getting beaten to the punch repeatedly and having difficulty dealing with the Brazilian's speed.
Jorgensen was stopped by Eddie Wineland via strikes for the first time last year, but he bounced back nicely against John Albert, finishing him with a submission with just one second left in the first round. Now, he's hoping to score a huge win against one of the big boys as he take son his pal Urijah Faber.
How he gets it done: Jorgensen is not the fastest guy in the division by a long shot, but he makes up for it with power. If he can connect with a big punch, your lights will go out and if he lock up your neck with a guillotine choke like his brutal finish against Chad George in 2010, you're going to be in some serious trouble.
Jorgensen is also patient in the stand-up, he does a good job of sitting back and striking when openings are available rather than forcing the issue. When his opponents get too aggressive in the stand-up realm, he's also got that solid wrestling in his back pocket where he can shoot in and put an opponent on their back.
It'll be an interesting dynamic to see if Jorgensen would rather stand with Faber or try to take him down for three rounds. It also depends if his wrestling is good enough to take down someone as dynamic as Faber.
Expect to see Jorgensen stand with Faber as long as he feels he's got the advantage there but if "The California Kid" is picking him apart, "Young Guns" will go to his bread and butter which is his wrestling. It won't be easy considering Faber's background, but he's got to try something.
Who will come out on top at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!