Barao came out on top once again, and this time he was able to get the finish. Typically we would not see Faber challenge for the title for a considerable amount of time, but the UFC should give a serious look at giving an immediate rematch to the "The California Kid."
Like most, I am not generally a fan of immediate rematches unless there is a good reason. The UFC Bantamweight Championship has a good reason to see Faber challenge again right away.
The division is not filled with challengers who are ready to headline a pay-per-view or excite fans. The current top five ranked fighters are:
|Urijah Faber||30-7||Loss to Barao, UFC 169|
|Michael McDonald||16-3||Loss to Faber, UFC on Fox 9|
|Rafael Assuncao||21-4||Win over Dillashaw, UFC Fight Night 29|
|Eddie Wineland||21-9-1||Win over Yves Jabouin, UFC on Fox 10|
|T.J. Dillashaw||9-2||Win over Mike Easton, UFC Fight Night 35|
No. 2-ranked Michael McDonald can be removed from this discussion right away. He has a definitive loss to Faber as his most recent outing. Also, he was finished by Barao. He will need at least one key win before emerging as a title challenger again.
That leaves No. 3-ranked Rafael Assuncao, No. 4-ranked Eddie Wineland and No. 5-ranked T.J. Dillashaw as the only other title contenders with Dominick Cruz on the shelf.
Dillashaw was mentioned by Faber in the post-fight interview, but he is only coming off a win to Mike Easton. His win streak was broken prior to that fight by Assuncao. He could be placed in a title fight with Barao, but he would leapfrog Assuncao, who is more deserving.
Wineland is only coming off one win just like Dillashaw. He picked up a TKO win over Yves Jabouin at UFC on Fox 10. He is 3-1 in his last four bouts and has a TKO loss to Barao back in September. It is a bit too soon to see that rematch.
That leaves the UFC with two options—Assuncao or Faber.
Assuncao is the more deserving of the two. He is on a five-fight win streak. However, the problem with his title bid is that it is a hard promotional sell. The Brazilian is not charismatic, and the fanbase does not care much about him.
The only way the UFC could possibly sell this fight is to have it headline a secondary card in Brazil. It would most likely do a fine gate in Brazil, but the ratings and/or buys for the show would not be much.
That is why Faber should get the call, and it is why the UFC should put this fight on Fox.
The UFC promotional machine can sell this rematch due to the controversial stoppage at UFC 169. The organization can use that as the narrative and push this fight on network television to give Barao and the UFC Bantamweight Championship more exposure.
The bantamweight division is in a sorry state. It is not filled with exciting contenders and doesn't have a champion whom many casual fans are excited about. That is unfortunate with how good Barao is, but that is just the state of things today.
Fox will allow more folks than ever to witness Barao's brilliance, or it will allow everyone to watch Faber finally achieve UFC gold. Either way, it pays dividends for the UFC in the long run. Assuncao can be next in line, and the UFC can show him in the crowd as the next challenger.
It will be what is best for business.
A title fight with Faber on Fox will draw considerably more eyes than Assuncao. It will set up the winner to have a bigger payday in their next outing for the UFC.
There is no excitement around Barao and any other challenger. The UFC, and Faber, should not pass up a payday with the trilogy fight to erase the controversy of UFC 169. Make the fight, put it on network television and try to move this division in the right direction.