Despite finishing his last two opponents via submission, Urijah Faber isn't taking on a ranked opponent tonight (Aug. 17, 2013) at UFC Fight Night 26, the inaugural mixed martial arts (MMA) card on FOX Sports 1 network.
Instead, "California Kid" will collide with Yuri Alcantara inside TD Bank Garden in Boston, Mass., with the majority of experts expecting him to defeat the unheralded Brazilian in short order.
Will that add an extra layer of pressure on the veteran?
"I always have pressure to win, of course," Faber said recently as a guest on MMAmania.com's presentation of Darce Side Radio. "It does put a little bit of urgency in there I guess.
"The fact that he's as accomplished as he is, and not many people know who he is, is kind of null and void when you get down to the basics," he said. "He's a guy that is going to really try to beat me up and that's what I have to focus on."
Alcantara is 2-1-1 inside the Octagon, with the majority of his experience coming in Brazil. "Experience-wise, I feel we are pretty close," Faber said.
"The guy has faced tough competitors," Faber said. "He's big for the 135-pound weight class. I don't know if he's faced someone quite like me, but he has been tested before and it's going be an interesting fight.
"I feel like it's a good match-up for me," he continued. "He's real dangerous, he's got some slick submissions and a heavy left hand and left kick, but I'm no stranger to hard hitters or guys that are really good at jiu-jitsu."
In 34 career fights, the Team Alpha Male founder has seen almost everything, has never been submitted and has only been finished once, a technical knockout loss to Mike Brown at WEC 36.
"I've been doing this a long time and I've faced a lot of tough guys," he says with confidence. "He's the type of guy that likes to go out there and try to bully guys and I'm not the type of guy that gets bullied.
"It's going to be a testament to the toughness of our weight division," he remarked. "I feel I'm tougher and I'm sure he feels he's tougher. I'm going to add him to the list and make sure I get my ‘W.'"
Another Bantamweight battle is taking place on Saturday's card between No. 5-ranked Brad Pickett and the No. 3-ranked Michael McDonald. That will be of high interest for Faber, as well as the UFC 165 interim Bantamweight title-fight between Renen Barao and Eddie Wineland.
He could potentially face either of the four next should he defeat Alcantara later this evening.
"Yeah, and I think Cruz is supposed to come back also," Faber says. "I'm not sure, I think they're saying February maybe and that factors into the division also."
Faber's arch nemesis has been out almost two full years, but regardless of his dislike for the sidelined Bantamweight champion, he doesn't think he should be stripped of the 135-pound strap
"I would say don't strip him of anything because when he comes back, people are going to want to see how he matches up against the top guys, not the guys who aren't top notch," Faber said. "That's a position I've been in for a long time. I've always been fighting top guys. You can strip him of the belt, or not strip him of the belt. I don't think it matters."
Faber has lost both Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title fights in which he has taken part, one to Cruz and last summer's battle against Barao. Which one haunts him the most?
"You know, I never like to lose so they're both about equal," he admitted. "I feel like I won the fight against Cruz and I didn't feel that way against Barao, so the Cruz one probably a little bit more."
Faber is only hours away from stepping into the Octagon to vie for another potential shot at the 135-pound title. He said it "feels great" to be part of the big card on FOX Sports 1.
"It's a big way to launch the new station and I know they have a lot of pull behind it and they want big fights," he said. "That's why they decided to put me on the card. I'm a guy that's going to deliver and I'm ready for a battle, man. I'm ready to get in there and mix it up."