Saturday night marks an important moment in the career of Urijah Faber.
Of course, his is a career full of important moments. He's the first-ever true lighter-weight superstar—and by that I mean dudes under 155 pounds, of course—and is pretty much single-handedly responsible for the success that fighters such as Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz are currently enjoying.
Let's be real for a second: If not for Faber, there would have still been guys like Cruz and Benavidez and Aldo making their way over to the UFC. Eventually.
But because of Faber, it happened much sooner than it would've. Faber's run for the title at the first-ever WEC pay per view convinced the powers that be at Zuffa that smaller fighters could have success in main-eventing pay per view events. Because of Faber, they were a sellable commodity.
Those sellable commodities are starting to appear more and more frequently on top of UFC pay-per-views. In addition to the Faber vs. Renan Barao fight on Saturday's UFC 149 card, we also now know that Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson will headline the UFC's next foray into Toronto this September.
Those dudes are flyweights, the smallest of the small, and they're on top of a PPV that features Brian Stann vs. Michael Bisping and Rory MacDonald vs. B.J. Penn. That's quite an accomplishment. And they owe it all to Faber.
MMAFighting's Luke Thomas weighed in with his own take, and I wanted to include it here because it's quite accurate:
But bantamweight is thin and the UFC needs all the stars it can get right now. A strong victory over Brian Bowles was all the UFC needed to put Faber and Cruz on The Ultimate Fighter. The reality is the Faber vs. Cruz rivalry is the UFC's best chance at elevating bantamweight's profile. If Dominick Cruz is to remain champion, it's also his best hope for getting over on audiences.
To answer the question, then, I doubt this is Faber's last shot. if this were lightweight or welterweight I'd say Faber's window has closed. But as long as Faber is reasonably healthy, competitive and can string together consecutive victories, he'll get another opportunity. I don't think he'll get an endless supply of opportunities, but is it really outlandish to think two more (Saturday's included) title opportunities are unrealistic? I don't see it.
This is the truth of the matter. Out of the three smallest weight classes in the UFC, Faber is the biggest star. Actually, Faber's the biggest star of all of them even if you include lightweight. He's more popular than Frankie Edgar, Ben Henderson, Nate Diaz or any other top lightweight.
Simply put, he's the biggest smaller-weight draw they have and until fans start treating Aldo and Cruz and Benavidez as true draws—the kind they feel inclined to throw down $60 of their hard-earned money to see—Faber will continue to get as many title shots as he earns.
That means that all he'll ever really need to do is string together 1-2 big wins, and he'll always be in championship contention.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!