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Monday Morning Hangover: Controversial stoppage crushes Urijah Faber's UFC title dreams

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After an action-packed UFC 169 event from Newark, New Jersey, plenty of fighters are still feeling the buzz; however, Urijah Faber is likely suffering from the worst post-fight hangover after failing to capture UFC gold for the third time, thanks to a premature stoppage.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone as UFC 169 blew the roof off the Prudential Center this past weekend (Feb. 1, 2014) in Newark, New Jersey.

Many combatants were left licking their wounds after a wild night of fights, including Frank Mir, who lost his fourth straight fight inside the Octagon (video here). And Jamie Varner, who was knocked out by Abel Trujillo in a thrilling "Fight of the Night" affair (watch it here).

But, which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now two days removed from the show?

Urijah Faber.

"The California Kid" attempted to end his championship drought -- which includes three in WEC and two in UFC -- by dethroning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight titleholder Renan Barao.

Unfortunately for Urijah, the streak extended to six, as Renan finished the fight in the very first round. But the Brazilian bomber arguably had a bit of help from the referee on duty, Herb Dean.

Barao floored Faber twice (highlights here) and pounced on him like a lion pouncing on a wounded gazelle to wrap up the win, thanks to some vicious ground-and-pound. But the stoppage was highly questionable, one which fans, UFC President Dana White, and just about everybody else, disagreed with.

Dean, without a doubt, is the best referee in all of mixed martial arts (MMA). But like all greats, even Dean isn't immune to making mistakes.

Saturday night was proof of that.

Of the 15 hammer fists Barao landed, only the first two hit their mark. 11 of them landed on Faber's gloves with two of them barley grazing his left shoulder. In addition, Urijah had a thumb up, a clear sign he was far from finished. Granted, we have the advantage of instant replay and super slow-motion to dissect the ending of the fight.

Dean does not.

Two things stood out to me, however. One, Barao's hammer fists didn't exactly have snap to them. And with good reason, too, as he was concentrating more on trying to convince Herb to stop the fight instead of focusing on putting all of his force into his punches.

Which leads me to my second point; and that's the fact that Dean seemed to be highly influenced by Renan's pleas to stop the bout. I'm not trying to crucify Dean, or take anything away from Renan, for that matter, but Herb is too good, too experienced and too knowledgeable to be persuaded by a fighter into stopping a title fight simply by getting stared at.

Herb, however, isn't the only referee to ever to fall for that trick (think Mario Yamasaki at UFC 84 during B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk), and he likely won't be the last.

So, who should Faber fight next?

Dominick Cruz.

Before you start throwing stones at me, here me out.

Cruz and Faber were expected to meet each other for a trilogy title fight at UFC 148. Dominick's knee injury, however, put a halt to those plans and began a chain of grueling and unfortunate events that led us to this past Saturday night.

"The Dominator" is aware that he may have to take another bout before getting the opportunity to reclaim the title again on the heels of his latest setback, and who better to challenge than the number two guy in the division? The winner should then earn the right to fight Barao (again).

Yes, even Faber, given how this past fight ended.

Okay, now feel free to throw those stones (as well as other suggestions) my way.

For more UFC 169 results and fallout, including recaps, videos, highlights and more, check out our "Barao vs. Faber 2" live story stream by clicking here.