This Saturday night (Aug. 17, 2013) at UFC Fight Night 26 from TD Bank Garden in Boston, Mass., perennial Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight contender, Urijah Faber, will step into the Octagon to battle a very dangerous -- albeit unknown -- opponent, Yuri Alcantara.
Faber is well aware that this fight is, for all intents and purposes, a lose-lose proposition; however, he also acknowledges that when you get to his lofty position, there's going to be a lot of those fights. Alcantara, meanwhile, is a tough, experienced combatant who will give "California Kid" a run for his money in Boston.
This bout is one of many on the "Shogun vs. Sonnen" fight card that has the potential to win "Fight of the Night" honors. Both fighters are fast-paced and well-conditioned, so it would be a surprise to see anything other than an all-out frenetic war.
The Bantamweight division is currently in an odd state right with champion Dominick Cruz having been out for almost two years because of multiple ACL surgeries. Renan Barao has held the interim belt admirably in his absence, but it just illustrates that every 135-pound opportunity must be taken full advantage of because until Cruz returns, the No. 1 contender spot will remain up for grabs.
For Faber, this may be his last run at a championship, while Alcantara -- who just turned 33 -- will look to make a name for himself off of the former champion. Without further ado, let's take a look at the pivotal 135-pound mixed martial arts (MMA) match up between Urijah Faber vs. Yuri Alcantara that will be featured on the FOX Sports 1 main card broadcast.
Here we go:
Record: 28-6 overall, 4-2 UFC
Key Wins: Dominick Cruz (WEC 26), Jens Pulver (WEC 34, WEC 38), Bibiano Fernandes (KOTC: All Stars), Eddie Wineland (UFC 128)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (WEC 48), Dominick Cruz (UFC 132), Renan Barao (UFC 149), Mike Brown (WEC 36, WEC 41)
How he got here: Faber arrived at his position as one of the most recognizable faces in MMA by taking on a laundry list of worthy contenders throughout his reign as World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Featherweight champion. He's had highly publicized wars against Cruz, Aldo and Brown. Problem is, he's lost five title fights in a row and at age 34, his window of opportunity for another title reign is closing fast.
That's always going to be Faber's main goal -- he will most likely not want to be relegated to the role of gatekeeper. His toughness has served him well throughout his career, evidenced by the fact that he's never been submitted.
How he gets it done: Faber needs to send a message with this fight because he knows that's it's a sort of lose-lose proposition for him, but he's willing to take on all comers. With that said, he'll have to have his submission defense at a high level to combat the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Alcantara.
If he can secure a few takedowns, that'll be great in the eyes of the judges, but he should remain cautious when in his opponent's guard. Faber has been winning fights with a dangerous array of chokes recently, so look for him to try to catch Alcantara leaving his neck exposed at some point. On the feet, Faber will have to be a step quicker than Alcantara, something he that wasn't against Aldo and Barao.
How he got here: Alcantara got to this high-profile bout through years of battling up the rankings in several promotions, including the WEC, where he beat highly-ranked UFC Featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas. The former Jungle Fight Lightweight champion has since cut down two weight classes and he's no doubt a very dangerous fight for any Bantamweight. But, he's under the radar, similar to Barao before he handily beat Faber in his coming-out party in the main event of UFC 149.
Because of this, Alcantara is a man with truly nothing to lose at UFC Fight Night 26. A loss to Faber will likely be chalked up as the expected outcome, but a win will give Alcantara a huge rankings boost thanks to Faber's household name. The Brazilian has been in the fight game since 2004 and all his efforts will culminate against the highly decorated Faber.
How he gets it done: Alcantara definitely has his work cut out for him in this bout. Faber is notoriously tough to finish. It'll come down to small advantages here because a clear opening for a knockout or submission will be hard to come by. Alcantara is going to have to outpoint Faber on the feet, which is definitely possible.
Faber's had trouble with strikers in the past who are able to beat him to the punch. Chopping down "California Kid's" legs with kicks will be to Alcantara's advantage. His jiu-jitsu black belt will help him out in managing Faber's vaunted wrestling game, but a submission is unlikely. All said and done, it's going to be a war.
Bottom Line: It's a classic clash between a jiu-jitsu black belt versus a wrestler, but both of these fighters are far from one-dimensional. They're both extremely hungry, too, with Faber looking to prove he still belongs in title talks, while Alcantara seeks to make a name for himself in a big way. The fighter who strikes first is going to win here. Submissions will be looked for, but at the same time hard to come by, so any advantage will be needed to sway the favor of the judges here. Once the dust settles, this fight could end up challenging Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle for "Fight of the Night."
Can Faber continue his quest to what might be his last chance at a title or will Alcantara blast his way into the top ten by beating the former longtime WEC champion?