Brazilian bantamweight Iuri Alcantara took advantage of an overzealous Faber and used a lateral drop in the bout's opening seconds to take the back of the former WEC featherweight linchpin. In an impressive sequence of attacks from the back mount, Alcantara threatened with submissions and landed some significant ground strikes on a feisty Faber.
"The California Kid" turned the tables, however, biding his time and scoring a double-leg takedown off a scramble to emphatically slam Alcantara to the mat.
Faber spent the rest of the round dropping thunderous elbows and punches on Alcantara in the closed guard. Over the next three rounds, The California Kid scored three takedowns and out-struck Alcantara 87-3, including 35-2 in the significant strikes category.
Despite the early scare, Faber easily swept the scorecards to earn a 30-26, 30-26, 30-27 unanimous decision.
Not since his demoralizing setback to Jose Aldo at WEC 48 back in April 2010 had Faber found himself so vulnerable in a fight. But rather than wilting under the pressure, Faber kept his composure and put on one of the most inspiring performances of his storied 35-fight career.
When the dust settled, Faber not only proved that elite wrestling typically trumps top-notch Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he also showed that he's still in the hunt for another title shot.
The 33-year-old Alcantara, on the contrary, showed that his venomous striking and submission skills make him a threat to anyone in the 135-pound division, even legends like Faber.
All stats gathered via Fightmetric.com.