Brown defeated Faber with a no-doubt, flashy knockout. When the smoke cleared, Brown stood alone atop the division, the new champion. He would stay there, if only for a fleeting moment.
Brown defended his title twice, allowing Faber a chance at redemption in the process. In his second loss to Brown at WEC 41, a unanimous decision, Faber showed the world exactly why he was so highly revered.
In a true display of character and desire to compete, Faber took a war to Brown that lasted five brutal rounds. In the end, he obviously lost, but in his loss he gained as much respect as he might have had he won.
Faber broke his right hand early and later dislocated the other. Yet he persevered where many men would have thrown in the towel.
Brown suffered his own bumps and bruises in the fight but emerged the victor again. The warrior's heart that both of these elite featherweights posses was obvious. The type of character necessary to put it all on the line and leave it all in the ring like these two did is not common; to the contrary, it is quite rare.
All that being said, six months after their last fight in a cage together, both men find themselves looking back up to the top of the mountain they collectively ruled for almost three years.
Looking back down at them is the future of the featherweight division, an obstacle which seems immovable. A man who gives no indication that he intends to relinquish his new title.
The term meteoric rise really doesn't do this young fighter's momentum justice. It suffices to say he has made a strong statement in the FW division.
There is a certain level of elevating the bar that has taken place over the last three or so years.
When Brown beat Faber twice in such decisive fashion, it really left an impression on the entire sport. If Faber was so good, what does that make Mike Brown?
That torch of utter domination and feeling of supremacy was passed to Brown in such a fashion that people really started to wonder: Other than these two, who was going to compete in this division?
When Brown stepped into the cage with Jose Aldo, little did he know he was also about to pass the torch. By the second round of Brown's attempt to defend his title for the third time, it was very apparent that the bar had yet again been raised.
Aldo took a guy who had the number of one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport, a guy who assumed a touch of invincibility, and smashed him. There were no questions left to ask after Aldo took Brown's belt. Other than maybe, "now who beats Aldo?"
Now, like the others once did, Aldo finds himself high atop the mountain staring down into the eyes of starving, thirsting warriors. Fighters that know the feel of a title belt around their waist, fighters that miss that weight.
By doing so, he not only elevates himself, but the men who made his quest so difficult not long ago by their own domination. It was the strength of Faber and Brown that made Aldo work so hard to achieve his dreams of becoming a champion.
Now if Faber or Brown dare to challenge for their belt at any time in the near future (and without a doubt they will), they will now have to answer Aldo's questions. They will have to step up to the level he has come to succeed at. In doing so, he makes them better, and himself better in the process as he tries to stay a step ahead of them both.