The WEC Is Desperate for Urijah Faber's Return to the Top

Jesse MotiffSenior Analyst IJanuary 6, 2010

The WEC has done a tremendous job of putting on spectacular fight cards time and time again. It never seems to matter which fighters are set to square off, fans are always able to count on seeing exciting, action-packed fights.

Miguel Angel Torres, Brian Bowles, Mike Brown, Jose Aldo, and countless others have become fan favorites thanks to continued displays of speed, strength, and skill.

None, however, have had the mainstream exposure and popularity as former Featherweight champion, Urijah Faber.

The California Kid stormed out to a 21-1 record to start his career. Between his exciting finishes and "surfer dude" looks and attitude, Faber was not only the face of the organization but one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

All that came to an end in November 2008, when he was knocked out by Mike Brown. Brown was a no-nonsense fighter but lacked the charisma that Faber brought to the table.

The two fought again last June, and despite injuring both of his hands, he took Brown the distance, losing a unanimous decision. Faber showed the heart and fighting spirit of a true champion, despite not being able to overcome Brown.

All that changed in November, when Brown was shocked by Jose Aldo. The loss left Brown without his belt, but Faber had new hope in again becoming a champion. Hope turned into a legitimate opportunity when it was announced that the winner of his fight with Raphael Assuncao would be named the number one contender and next in line for a title shot with Aldo.

Faber will have his work cut out for himself trying to beat Assuncao, a man that has won 14 of his 15 career fights, with dangerous striking and great Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Nonetheless, Faber will enter the fight a huge favorite and must be wary of his opponent.

Despite having healed from his injuries against Brown, it will still be interesting to see if Faber makes any changes to his strategy. His stand-up game is vital to not only beating Assuncao, but will be the foundation of his game plan against both Aldo and Brown.

He showed against Brown he can be a creative striker but no fighter can win a fight with both hands injured.

Although Faber may not be the best fighter in a division that grows seemingly deeper at every event, he is the most recognizable name and face in the entire organization. The long-term success of the WEC will be greatly linked to how Faber does on Sunday and in the future.

For the WEC to take the next step in their growth towards pay-per-view, they need a victory by Faber on Sunday followed up by him regaining his Featherweight title. A likely third fight with Brown looms, which could be marketed as the biggest fight in the promotion's history and headline their very first pay-per-view.

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