What’s next for Urijah Faber? It should be Michael McDonald


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. 

  • I just can't get over that chin… ok on to the serious point, I think he has to fight McDonald. He can't fight Barao again yet, Cruz obviously isn't back yet and if he was would make Barao vs Cruz. The fight is a great matchup… well then again maybe it doesn't make sense just yet. If Faber and McDonald fight again right now the winner would HAVE to fight the Interim champ again, and I don't think either of them deserve a rematch with Barao yet. Faber having lost 5 straight title fights and McDonald having just lost to him. I want McDonald to beat another top 5 fighter and then beat Faber if he's still rolling. Barao is on another level. McDonald is the future of the division though. Faber is in a tough spot for his career at this stage. While it still seems he's improving I don't think he can beat Barao ever. Cruz once back in top shape I think has Faber's number. I also think McDonald can beat Faber. He's not looking to move down that I know of and he wouldn't be top 5 if he moved up.

    • I have to disagree with the "Cruz has Faber's number" statement. The fighter Faber is today would WHOOP Cruz as he was the last time they fought and with the injury Cruz is at the same level or a little less than he was when he comes back. This Faber is a brand new Faber and i think Faber would even stand a good chance in a rematch with Barao. He knows what's coming so he'd have a much better gameplan going in. Tough situation for Faber indeed… but there's hope. He's in no rush. If he just keeps performing the way he has been, he'll get there.

      Back on topic… i'd LOVE the Macdonald – Faber matchup…. Silva should book that fight!

      • I concur, I actually think Faber did better at fighting and Cruz did better at tag and a few quick takedowns that stayed down for less than 5 seconds. Cruz was knocked down which is far more significant multiple times and Faber has a win over him already anyway. Also his other title shot losses were in another weight class where he was one of the smallest guys if not the smallest and he still was the first to bring the champ of that division to 5 rounds and that champ is big for that weight class. And some may think I am crazy but Brown did not have his number. Brown was lucky on 2 occasions and it may seem unlikley but this is one instance it is true. Faber walked into a punch the first time and then in the rematch he was unlucky enough to break both hands in R2 and while suffering this still nearly finished Brown in the 4th and lost by decision. Faber is not like Chael who gets shots with convincing losses he is actually still a guy people are wondering about as the next champ.

  • For sure. The latest Faber-Cruz bout was a close one, where Faber arguably landed the better punches with Cruz obviously having the edge in volume.

    Cruz is a great fighter, but this division is getting super talented. Barao is on an insane win streak, and he silenced the critics by beating Faber and McDonald convincingly. I think he destroys Cruz whenever they fight, and something tells me that their fight is still a ways off.

    That said, make Faber vs. McDonald 4-5 mos. down the road. Excellent way to clear up the congestion. Wonder if Edgar ever cuts down to fight the champ after a clear one is decided.

  • Alcantara is a monster….not very famous outside of Brasil but the guy is as good as it gets….
    If Faber can perform at that level he should be back in title contention……

  • Faber talked about how big he's getting, saying he gained 22 lbs between weigh-in and fight time during his last performance. He also talked about big/super fights. Why not fight Frankie @ 145? That would be an exciting matchup, especially if the UFC is hesitant about giving Faber yet another title shot. However, I do think if he fought, and beat McDonald, he deserves another shot at the 135lb title.