TUF 17 Finale: Does Urijah Faber Have What It Takes to Make Another Title Run?

Matt JuulContributor IIIApril 11, 2013

Feb 23, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Urijah Faber reacts after defeating Ivan Menjivar (not pictured) in their UFC bantamweight bout at the Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

If it was any fighter other than UFC bantamweight Urijah Faber, having an 0-5 record in five-straight title fights would probably make a sixth-consecutive run at a belt astronomically unlikely.

However, "The California Kid's" combination of mainstream marketability and sheer dominance over MMA's top 135ers (and 145ers) in non-title bouts makes him a perennial contender.

Critics may be sick and tired of seeing Faber challenge for a belt, but considering the state of the UFC's Top 10 bantamweights, there really isn't anyone out there right now who can challenge interim champ Renan Barao or injured champ Dominick Cruz when he returns to the Octagon.

Looking at the current 135 lb. rankings, Faber owns wins over four of the division's top 10 fighters, including the next interim title challenger, Eddie Wineland, who's set to face Barao at UFC 161. Other names on the list include Raphael Assuncao, former WEC champ Brian Bowles and veteran Ivan Menjivar. 

And let's not forget "The California Kid's" WEC featherweight title defense against Cruz.

A win at Saturday's The Ultimate Fighter finale against Scott Jorgensen would give him six wins over a top-10 UFC bantamweight or champion. 

While his resume alone may not be enough to earn Faber his sixth straight title run, the rest of the division seems to be helping him out as well.

Two of the Top 10 bantamweights that haven't faced "The California Kid"—Michael McDonald and Mike Easton—are coming off of loses, while Brad Pickett, the last name on the list, is still a few fights away from a title shot considering his pair of UFC losses to Barao and Wineland.

Beyond the action in the cage, Faber is also a highly marketable challenger for the UFC. 

Time and time again, the promotion has passed on the "deserving" challenger in order to set up bouts that the UFC knows it can sell. A rematch between Faber and Barao or Cruz would grab a ton of eyeballs and, hopefully, gain more fans for this lighter weight class.

The real issue here is, at 33-years-old, does "The California Kid" have enough left in the tank to pursue another championship matchup?

Well, judging by his impressive first round finish over Menjivar in his last outing, I'd say yes. However, an opponent who is as tough as nails like Jorgensen will be the real test to see what Faber has left in him.

But as long as "The California Kid" keeps running through opponents in non-title fights, it's almost inevitable that he will challenge for the interim or actual bantamweight belt in the near future.


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