WEC 48: Urijah Faber Dropping to 135 Pounds Might Be His Best Option

Leon Horne@@Leon_HorneAnalyst IApril 26, 2010

Urijah Faber sat down recently with Bleacher Report’s own Jesse Motiff to discuss his upcoming fight with Jose Aldo and his future as a fighter . Now that WEC 48 has come and passed, the future for Urijah Faber has lost a little bit of its lustre. Jose Aldo worked Urijah Faber over for the better part of five rounds using his length and powerful leg kicks to chop Faber down.

Faber will always remain a staple in the WEC mixed martial arts promotion. Anyone who compiles a record of 21-1 and defends a title five times before his second career loss is going to be a valuable asset to any promotion. Faber has just hit a couple of bumps in the road over the last year and a half.

Two wins and three losses in Faber’s last five fights is nothing to write home about and if he were a new kid on the block he would probably out of work. The losses were all in title fights and he put up a valiant and courageous effort in all of them, but it does not change the fact that the landscape in the featherweight division has changed.

Mike Brown took the title from Faber and defended the title against Faber on a second occasion. Brown lost the title to the current title holder Jose Aldo who dispatched Faber this past Saturday night. Brown himself lost again to former UFC lightweight fighter Manvel Gamburyan.

Clearly things have opened up in the featherweight division since Faber’s dominant reign from March 2006 until November 2008.

What does all the parity in the featherweight division mean and what does it mean for the former Champ Urijah Faber?

Obviously the WEC has been picking up steam over the last four to five years and with the increased success of the promotion comes increased success for the fighters in terms of money and popularity. The WEC has recently put a strong focus on the smaller weight divisions from bantam weight to light weight and a possible addition of a flyweight division.

Prior to the explosion of the WEC’s popularity, many smaller fighters were probably choosing to fight in the lightweight divisions in hopes of getting a lucrative contract with the mother of all promotions the UFC.

Now that the WEC has delved into the pay per view world and is beginning to see a lot of success, we are starting to see a lot more competition in the respective divisions of the WEC.

To put things in perspective, up until a year and a half ago the champions of the WEC were dominating the competition. Faber had defended his lightweight title five times, Miguel Torres his bantamweight title three times and Jamie Varner his lightweight title two times. Today, Faber, Torres and Varner are all former champions.

The statistics seem to tell us that maybe the WEC has passed some of its former champions by, including Urijah Faber.

Although Faber maybe in a bit of a struggle right now, he still has a lot of years left in his career. Faber is in incredible shape, he is a self admitted health nut coming from a family that believes strongly in holistic living and he is only 30 years old.

To put that in perspective, current UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar started mixed Martial arts at the age of 29 and the No. 1 contender, Shane Carwin, just made a name for himself in the sport at the age of 34.

However, there are probably some things that need to change in Faber’s approach. Faber has always been known as an exciting fighter who uses dynamic striking and interesting moves to say the least—does anyone remember the “Atomic Butt Drop?”

Against Aldo, Faber came out and tried to stand with him. Obviously, Aldo was the taller fighter and he had the reach advantage in the stand up game. Even though he was sorely outmatched in the stand up, Faber let himself take enough abuse to render his wrestling and take downs useless.

Aldo has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and it is something that has to be considered when setting up a game plan against him, but Faber is pretty well versed on the ground himself. Faber submitted Rafael Assuncao who is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt himself who has won eight of his 14 mixed martial arts victories via submission.

Faber maybe should have considered swallowing his pride in the fight with Aldo and used his collegiate wrestling and strong submission game to grind Aldo to a decision victory or sink in a submission.

The days of Faber fighting and beating his opponents at their own game should be done and over. When Faber was champion, fighting to his opponents’ strengths was entertaining for the fans and great for the WEC. Today, Faber should consider taking a page out of UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre’s book and fight his opponents where they have the least statistical chance of beating him.

I am no fighter and I am not trying to say I know how Faber should fight, but the fact that Faber will often fight into his opponent’s strengths isn’t exactly shrouded in mystery. Urijah needed to be exciting because he was the WEC’s main draw card after card, but now that there some other popular fighters in the promotion and the popularity of the WEC has risen considerably, Urijah needs to worry more about himself.

In addition to changing his approach, Faber should probably consider what he was discussing with Jesse Motiff more seriously. Faber discussed moving up to 155 pounds and down to 135 pounds for potential super fights.

There was a time where it looked like Faber could be a successful fighter at 155 pounds. However, after his last few losses and an earlier loss to UFC lightweight Tyson Griffin it seems as if Faber’s biggest challenge is not with the skill level of his opponents, but the size of them. A move up to light weight for Urijah doesn’t look like a promising move for the time being.

Now, moving down to 135 pounds is something Faber and the WEC should seriously consider. Faber has great conditioning, he admittedly says he can make the cut and he has a great wrestling base with a good all around game.

Faber’s only problem of late seems to have been against fighters who have a bit more reach and possibly a bit more power than he does. Moving down to 135 pounds would eliminate the problems he has had with the larger fighters in the featherweight division.

This isn’t to say that Faber’s run in featherweight has come to an end or that moving up to lightweight is out of the question, but if Faber wants to get a belt back the bantamweight title would be a great place for him to start. Oh and for what it’s worth, getting rid of the braids probably wouldn’t hurt either considering Faber’s recent skid began with the new hairdo.