After his most recent loss to Jose Aldo in April, rumors began to surface about Urijah Faber's future in the WEC's featherweight division. He had lost to top contender Mike Brown twice, and Aldo was never in serious jeopardy against The California Kid. Many felt it was time for him to drop down in weight classes.
Rumor is now reality, and Urijah Faber will make his debut in the WEC's bantamweight division against Takeya Mizugaki on August 18. The fight was confirmed by Damon Martin of MMAWeekly.com.
Prior to his recent slide in the featherweight division, Faber had been the most dominant 145-pound fighter in WEC history. He won the title in 2006, winning a bout over Cole Escovedo. He went on to defend the belt a record five times before losing the belt to Mike Brown in November 2008.
The drop in weight could be the first step in a long-awaited "super-fight" between Faber and former bantamweight champion Miguel Torres. The two were the faces of the company before losing their titles.
Faber also has a history with the current champion, Dominick Cruz. Faber handed Cruz his only career loss when the two fought each other in March 2007 at WEC 26. Faber successfully defended his featherweight title in the fight.
In addition to Torres and Cruz, Faber also has a connection to current top bantamweight contender, Joseph Benavidez. The two are teammates and have trained together for over three years. Benavidez considers Faber as his mentor and biggest influence in the sport.
Although Bleacherreport.com was unable to reach Faber for comment on his drop to bantamweight, he did speak about the subject prior to his fight against Jose Aldo in April.
"It [dropping in weight] is something that I've thought about," Faber said. "I'm not opposed to it, but I would rather do it to set up super-fights as opposed to making a full-time move to a different division. In the end, I want to do what's best for my career and fight the guys the fans want to see me fight."
Takeya Mizugaki is best known to American fight fans as the man that pushed Miguel Torres to the limits for the bantamweight title in April 2009. Torres won a unanimous decision, but Mizugaki pushed forward for all five rounds, gaining him the respect of fans and critics around the world.
A new division may be exactly what Faber needs to revive his career. It may be a blow to his ego, but he needs to realize he's just not big enough to compete at the 145-pound weight class.
Even with his recent struggles, Faber is still one of the biggest names and stars in the sport. A win over a good fighter like Mizugaki will go a long way to help restore his confidence. It may also put him right in the thick of the title hunt at a quickly deepening and improving bantamweight division.
How do you view Faber's drop to a new division? Is it the right move to bolster his career back to the elite level, or is it the last gasp for a once-great fighter?
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