clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC 149 results: Will Urijah Faber be remembered as an elite fighter?

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Getty Images

Going into his first bout with Mike Brown, Urijah Faber had defended his World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Featherweight Championship a total of five times including the latest defense being against Jens Pulver, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship 155 pound kingpin.

But less than midway through the opening round of their WEC 36 main event, a barrage of punches from Brown forced Faber to the mat which in turn, forced the referee to stop the fight. And just like that, Faber's entire career flipped upside down.

"The California Kid" walked into the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with 12 pounds of gold but would return home empty-handed.

He's been that way ever since.

Four years have passed since then and Faber's been involved in just as many title shots, all of which he's lost. The first was the rematch to Brown with the second coming seven events later to the man who still holds the featherweight crown.

He now has also received two title shots at bantamweight, the first being a loss to the current champion and the second tonight.

Has the game passed the former champion by? His second loss to Brown and his rematch against Dominick Cruz were relatively close but the losses to Jose Aldo and now Renan Barão in the main event of UFC 149 were blowouts and have put Faber in the unenviable position of not knowing what his future holds.

A decade from now, will Faber be remembered as an elite fighter?

Five title defenses is nothing to sneeze at but all except the last one came in 2007 when the featherweight division was in its infancy in the United States. Even today, it's not the most stacked division but comparatively speaking, the 145-pound weight class was anemic half a decade ago.

Once the division began to gain some depth, Faber fell to the wayside and suffered a five-round beating to Aldo at WEC 48 which forced "The California Kid" to drop to bantamweight.

His debut at 135 pound was impressive and he outlasted the always tough Eddie Wineland but he fell short in his rematch against Cruz who himself dropped to bantamweight two fights after taking on Faber at WEC 26.

It seems when Faber isn't inside the cage with the cream of the crop, he performs admirably. He took out Raphael Assunção, Mizugai and Wineland -- all tough but not considered elite -- when a title wasn't on the line but once the round count went up to five, he faltered. His most impressive victory in the past few years came against Brian Bowles, a former champion who also can't seem to find his way back to the top of the mountain.

Is it a result of his initial title loss to Brown at WEC 36? Does he suffer some sort of mental block when he knows a title is in contention? Or is he simply not good enough to hang with the upper echelon in the sport?

While it may never be known, Faber's failure to regain championship gold might be what his career is characterized by rather than his initial title run.

Perhaps Faber is a case of a fighter coming along too early. At 33-years old, he longer represents the "kid" portion in his monicker and is likely too old to overhaul his game. What Faber's got in his arsenal is what he's stuck with, for all better or worse.

But if he had the youth of a Michael McDonald -- barely over drinking age himself -- on his side, he might have the option to reinvent himself. As it stands, UFC 149 may have been Faber's last stand.

Former dominant champion or good but not great fighter?

What will Faber's legacy be?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania