Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight scrappers Urijah Faber and Brad Pickett will square off this Saturday (Dec. 17, 2016) at UFC on FOX 22 inside Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California.
Faber has been around the top of the sport for nearly a decade, but "California Kid" has decided it’s about time to hang up the gloves. Opposite a fellow veteran, Faber has the chance to go out with a win in front of his home crowd. The last few years have been rough for Pickett. He’s lost four of his last five bouts and hasn’t put together consecutive wins since 2012, which may leave the English pioneer close to retirement as well.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Dominick Cruz (WEC 26), Michael McDonald (UFC on FOX 9), Eddie Wineland (UFC 128), Frankie Saenz (UFC 194)
Key Losses: Renan Barao (UFC 149, UFC 169), Jose Aldo (WEC 48), Dominick Cruz (UFC 199, UFC 132)
Keys to Victory: Faber is a powerful puncher with one of the best submission games in his division’s history. He’s also a well-conditioned and tough athlete, which helps keep him in the fight even when fighting champions.
This is definitely a favorable match up for Faber. Historically, the fighters that give him trouble are able to avoid his right hand and keep the bout standing, but both of those paths to victory are available for the former Featherweight kingpin. Early on, Faber should look to frustrate his opponent. Pickett has solid head movement against foes willing to trade in the pocket — check out the Thomas Almeida fight — but he lunges after fighters who refuse to engage with him recklessly.
If patient, Faber will find an opening for the counter right hand.
Pickett has only become easier to hurt in recent years, and Faber is one of the best finishers around. If he can stun "One Punch," there’s every chance Faber can find his neck and cap off his career with another submission win.
Key Wins: Francisco Rivera (UFC Fight Night 84), Yves Jabouin (UFC on FUEL TV 5), Mike Easton (UFC on FUEL TV 9)
Key Losses: Yuri Alcantara (UFC 204), Thomas Almeida (UFC 189), Michael McDonald (UFC Fight Night 26)
Keys to Victory: Pickett is a dangerous boxer with a really solid grappling game. He times his double leg quite well and throws good combinations inside the pocket, even if Pickett has definitely lost a step in the last few years. This is a tough match up for Pickett, but it’s not unwinnable. Neither man are in their primes anymore, so there’s potential for a single punch from either side to dramatically change the complexion of the bout.
For Pickett, he needs to make this a boxing match. His wrestling has always been solid, so he should be able to keep this bout standing if he stays focused and keeps his feet under him. Getting frustrated and chasing Faber is a terrible idea.
That said, Pickett has a clear advantage in the pocket with his combination boxing. If he can stop the shot and methodically close range, there’s a chance he can out-work his opponent with his hands.
Bottom Line: It should be a fun fight between two vets near the end of their respective careers.
Faber has nothing left to prove, so there’s no real consequences for "California Kid." Obviously, a big win in his home town would be ideal, but his career has been a huge success either way. Plus, his involvement with the sport is far from over, as the founder of Team Alpha Male still has plenty to do.
After all, Cody Garbrandt is fighting for a title opposite Faber’s rival in just a couple weeks.
As for Pickett, there’s more at stake. Pickett wants to keep fighting, but the UFC is not likely to keep him around forever if he keeps coming up short, and that’s not even considering the nearly 40-fight veteran’s health. With a win, Pickett buys himself some time, as he’s won two of his last three and has generally looked better at 135 pounds. However, a loss likely sets Pickett up for his own retirement bout in the coming months.
At UFC on FOX 22, Urijah Faber and Brad Pickett will go to war. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?