The matchup is somewhat surprising, since Faber has faced a proverbial clown-car of champions and contenders for the last five years and Alcantara doesn't really fit the bill. The peculiarity of the pairing only grows when you consider that Faber has won two straight and is striding back toward yet another championship affair.
It's not that Alcantara is a poor fighter or unworthy to share the Octagon with Faber. At 3-1 in the UFC, he is a legitimate threat to Faber, and deserving of the opportunity to gain a signature win. That makes him a dangerous opponent.
People don't expect Alcantara to pose much of a challenge, but his ability outstretches his reputation, and he will almost certainly do better than those expectations project.
It's kind of a lose-lose situation for Faber, since he can't really exceed expectations. He can only underwhelm. And things only get worse for "The California Kid" when you consider what a loss at this point in his career would do.
Faber is 7-5 over his last 12 bouts, with each of the five losses coming in title bouts and each of the seven wins coming in non-title bouts.
While some believe he will one day grasp that elusive UFC strap, the probability diminishes with every defeat. Should he lose a fight that isn't of the championship variety, and to an unheralded opponent like Alcantara, it just may signify the quasi-official end of his title aspirations.
Beyond that, it may signify the end to his relevancy as a legitimate high-level competitor.
Even those who have written Faber off as a title threat tend to view him as capable, a combatant who has carved out a niche for himself a step below the top of the mountain. It's an unglamorous position, to be certain, but one of a certain dignity and respect that the rest of the field is rarely afforded by your average fan.
However, if Faber fails to defeat Alcantara at UFC on Fox Sports 1, he will fall from his liminal spot between champion and pack. He will join that pack as just another bantamweight. Sure, he'll retain his icon status, continue to receive prominent placement on fight cards and stick as a fan-favorite. But at 34, and with his recent record of championship failures, a loss to Alcantara might just lower the ceiling of Faber's career under the championship level for good, once and for all stifling his UFC title aspirations.