UFC 149: Why Urijah Faber Must Win Title Match to Remain Relevant in MMA

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IJuly 21, 2012

SACRAMENTO, CA - JUNE 26:  Urijah Faber relaxing after working out for the media during the Team Alpha Male Media Open Workout at Ultimate Fitness Gym on June 26, 2012 in Sacramento, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

UFC 149 will be Urijah Faber's fifth crack at a title since November of 2008 and hopefully for The California Kid, this time around he'll actually win the match.

If not, Faber could find himself tossed into the pool of irrelevant fighters in the sport of MMA. Sure his following might still be big, but five consecutive title fight losses could ruin whatever credibility the 33-year-old has left.

In his four previous title fights, Faber hasn't looked so great against his opponents. Three of those losses were as a result of a unanimous decision while the other was a KO/TKO loss to Mike Brown that initially dethroned The California Kid.

Brown alone is responsible for two of those losses himself.

Having lost four of his last nine fights, Faber is flirting with being sent back down the ranks of the UFC and having to work his way back up which is a scary proposition for a brawler Faber's age.

But, nonetheless, that's how things go in Dana White's sport: Put up, or shut up.

Tonight, Faber better put up.

His opponent, Renan Barao, won't be any easy win by any means for the former champ. Barao comes into this fight on a 28-match unbeaten streak and is easily one of the best young fighters to watch in this sport.

But fighting and winning against such an impressive opponent could work in Faber's favor moving forward. Sure his credentials and history speak for themselves, but even Faber's accomplishments have lost their luster since he got hit with the losing bug.

Barao is eight years younger than Faber and at this stage in both these fighters' respective careers, their talents in striking and grappling are about even, with Barao having the edge in quickness on more youthful legs.

The 25-year-old is one of the top fighters in the division at the moment and a victory for Faber in this bout could prove that The California Kid still belongs with the best in the sport. It would prove that Faber is a championship-caliber fighter and that his past four title losses were just a result of tough luck and not an aging fighter losing his edge.

If he loses this fight, Faber will become the dreaded UFC measuring stick for up-and-coming fighters. That can be described as a guy who can still win against decent fighters, but can no longer hang with the elite in the sport.

Surely Faber wants to avoid that label and if he is concerned with staying relevant in the UFC down the road, he must win this fight with Barao.