Former WEC Featherweight champion and UFC title challenger Urijah Faber has been on a roll recently. He’s dispatched his last three opponents in impressive fashion, tapping out Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen before grinding out a unanimous decision victory over Yuri Alcantara at last weekend’s UFC Fight 26 in Boston. The three-fight win streak has “The California Kid” talking about fighting for the belt again, something that he’s very familiar with.
However, he’s lost his last five title fights in a row, suffering defeat at the hands of Mike Brown twice, Jose Aldo, Dominick Cruz, and Renan Barao. While that would have most fighters far, far away from another shot at UFC gold, Faber might be the exception. He routinely destroys all comers outside of title fights, so he’s in an odd position right now.
And that position is made even more confusing by the congested situation at the top of the UFC Bantamweight division. Champion Dominick Cruz hasn’t fought in nearly two years due to severe complications from ACL surgery, and interim champ Renan Barao is on the shelf as well after being removed from his scheduled UFC 161 title bout against Eddie Wineland. While speculation has Cruz returning to action sometime early next year, that’s not set in stone. Even if he does, Faber would have to wait for Cruz and Barao to unify the belts before he gets another crack at either one.
It’s not that his track record isn't deserving, because it is. But he’s lost to both champions in the past. He did beat Cruz once before as well, and he may be at a point where he could do it again with Cruz not back to 100%. His fight with Barao wasn’t as close as the one he and Cruz put on at UFC 132. Barao has an insane win streak going, and when he’s on his game, he’s absolutely the best 135 lb. fighter on the planet in my eyes.
So where does that leave Faber? I think there’s only one logical option for him as he bides his time in an attempt to get one more crack at the belt, and that’s a fight with rising young superstar Michael “Mayday” McDonald. McDonald put his considerable skills on showcase at UFC Fight 26 as well, finishing off the notoriously tough Brad “One Punch” Pickett with a slick triangle choke. That win put the Bantamweight division on notice if it wasn’t already, and the 22-year-old McDonald definitely has the potential to hold the title soon.
If Faber’s truly ready to make one last run towards a championship, McDonald is without a doubt the test he should pass. The youngster mixes a rarely seen blend of striking accuracy and power with a good all-around game. While McDonald lost via arm triangle against Barao at UFC on FUEL TV from London this March, that fight will most likely end up doing him a lot more good than bad in the long run.
Barao and McDonald are the undeniable future of the 135 lb. arena, and the cold truth of the matter may be that they have passed the now aging Faber by.
But then again, the Team Alpha Male leader is on an impressive roll inside the Octagon. He has the skills to beat McDonald and become the number one contender. Can he do that in order to secure another title fight? No matter what happens, UFC fans deserve to find out, so let’s hope this blockbuster bout gets signed in the near future.