Ladies and gentlemen, at UFC 149 we witnessed Urijah Faber’s last bid for a UFC title.
Let me preface this article by saying: Urijah Faber is a great fighter. His loss to Renan Barao does not make him any less of a man or mixed martial artist; he just got beat, fair and square.
What the loss does tell us, however, is that Faber is no longer the elite, dominant fighter he once was.
During his run as featherweight king in the WEC, Faber was unstoppable. He was ruthless, and he finished fighters in overpowering fashion.
Since coming to the UFC, however, we have seen Faber’s output taper off a bit.
Sure, he has still looked good, but the UFC is full of “good” fighters. These guys do not get title shots; the exceptional ones do.
At this point in his career, Faber is no longer exceptional.
Renan Barao used leg kicks, movement and takedown defense to defeat Faber en route to a unanimous decision victory, a game plan we have seen work against “The California Kid” in the past.
To be an elite fighter, you have to adjust and improve on your weaknesses. We have not seen Faber do this in the later stages of his career.
He had to know that Renan Barao is best friends and training partners with Jose Aldo, a man who Faber also holds a loss to at featherweight.
Still, Faber had no answers when Barao used the same tactics as Aldo, with similar success.
This shows poor game-planning and an unwillingness to work on weak areas by Faber, and for that, he will never reclaim the throne at 135 lbs.
Folks, fighters are getting better and better as the sport progresses. Young fighters like Michael MacDonald have been training MMA, not just a specific discipline, their entire lives, and this is creating a pool of well-rounded fighters who are comfortable wherever the fight may go.
Faber is not getting any younger, and even though he will hold an experience edge against any up-and-coming bantamweight, the speed and evolution of the game is slowly passing him by.
"The California Kid" is still fast and powerful, indeed, and he is still a top-10 bantamweight in the world.
Who cares about top-10, though, when you have been No. 1 for so long and when the UFC belt is the only achievement you strive to obtain?
Faber undoubtedly wants to be the best, but his time has simply come.
With rising sharks in the division, Faber finds himself bleeding in deep waters, and unless he calls it quits and assumes his promising business career, he will be eaten before he swims away alive.