All "The California Kid" needed to do was beat Renan Barao. He did not have to win decisively, he did not have to demolish his foe, he just had to win and the shot would be his.
Unfortunately in the fight game, things do not always go according to plan, and Faber was outpointed for five rounds in what was a lopsided unanimous decision victory for the Brazilian phenom Barao.
For Faber, the lost opportunity means more than just missing a shot at the belt in the short term; he proved that he should never challenge for the bantamweight strap again.
Losing a competitive fight is one thing, and Faber is certainly a competitive fighter against 99 percent of bantamweights.
The problem is that he has not showed any kind of evolution or ability to adapt in his game, and that leaves him at a crossroads in his career.
The gameplan to beat Faber is relatively simple: stay outside, use your reach (Faber's stumpy arms almost always give his opponent the reach advantage), kick his legs and avoid being taken down.
It sounds like a lot, but it really consists of leg kicks, jabs and the occasional sprawl. If you avoid Faber's power, you will be fine by following this blueprint.
We saw it work for Dominick Cruz when he defeated Faber at UFC 132, and we saw it work again at UFC 149 when Barao followed an identical plan.
Let me say this: Faber is an incredible fighter and one of the best lighter weight fighters in the history of the sport.
Now, let me also say this: he is old and past his prime. At 33 years of age, Faber seems like a relatively young man. Certainly, many men find their prime in their mid-to-late 30's, so why is Faber any different?
Faber is different because he has been fighting professionally since 2003. He has been in some incredible five-round wars, and he has exerted himself to the fullest both inside and outside the cage in those nine years.
Besides being a top-level mixed martial artist, Faber is a businessman, a writer and star of his fight team, Team Alpha Male.
With this responsibility, Faber's career probably feels more like 15 years than it does nine years, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
For starters, Faber can get out of the sport while he is still young. He has already accomplished much, and, as mentioned, he has plenty of avenues to explore should he decide to stop fighting.
Aside from this though, the bantamweight division is loaded, and it is getting deeper every day. I still think Faber can beat most bantamweights, but I do not feel he is at the tippy-top form he once was in his career.
Lastly, he had his chances, and other fighters are building more deserving resumes at this point. Faber finds himself in title shots as often as any fighter due to his skill and marketability, but maybe it is time to say enough is enough.
Like Kenny Florian, Faber has had his chances and failed.
Now, he needs to move on.
Thankfully, the future is just as bright for Faber outside the Octagon, so there is no shame in the fact that we will probably never see him challenge for the belt again.
It may seem early to declare, but, with his performance against Renan Barao, I think it safe to say that, unless he shows a major evolution in his game, Urijah Faber should never challenge for a UFC championship again.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!