If anyone had a question as to whether Urijah "The California Kid" Faber was still an elite bantamweight, you can put those concerns to rest.
In an efficient and effective performance, Faber defeated a young, hungry and skilled Alex "Bruce Leeroy" Caceres by submission. The finishing maneuver was a rear-naked choke, which Faber has used to stop eight opponents in his illustrious career before Saturday's win.
When the bout was over, per the UFC pay-per-view broadcast, Faber said:
"He's very tough, he was on a five-fight win streak. I'm ranked No. 2, he's ranked No. 12. That's not too far off. I take these fights seriously."
Though just 10 spots separated the two men, the difference between the two was clear.
Caceres has a future in the division, but he was no match for Faber's strength, experience and technique. With explosive shoots and relentless pressure, Faber wore down Caceres and took advantage of a few tactical errors.
The moment Caceres gave up his back, Faber pounced and sunk in the choke. The UFC Twitter account said:
Faber came in ranked just behind recent champion Renan Barao. The man who currently holds the title is Faber's training partner, TJ Dillashaw.
Depending on who you ask, Faber is willing to go after his friend if Dillashaw is the man with the title when UFC matchmakers call Faber's name again. Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan claimed Faber was willing to take on Dillashaw during the UFC 175 broadcast, but Fox Sports Damon Martin says otherwise:
At 35 years old, Faber's time to win his first UFC title is fading.
There's really nowhere else for Faber to go at this point in his career. Every time he faces an up-and-comer, Faber draws a thick line between himself and the wannabe contenders.
He has scored spectacular submission wins over Ivan Menjivar, Michael McDonald and now Caceres.
While Faber is in phenomenal shape, he won't be able to fend off Father Time forever. After having two shots at Barao, Faber came up empty. He was even stopped in the second meeting. A sense of desperation has to be setting in for him.
Having tried his hand and failed at knocking off Barao, Faber's best chance to win might be against Dillashaw. Styles make fights, and there's no doubt Faber is well acquainted with the new champion. His strength and power could give Dillashaw problems.
If Dillashaw wins the rematch with Barao, which is scheduled for the main event of UFC 177, it's hard to imagine another opponent for the champion.
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