UFC 128 Results: Urijah Faber Struggles with Eddie Wineland, What's Next?
Despite the UFC hype billing it as a fight between two former champions, most people expected Urijah Faber to dominate Wineland and win by whatever method he chose.
Instead, Faber would lose the first round before he was able to use his wrestling and top position control to dominate the final two rounds.
So, what's next for Faber?
The win should propel him into a title shot opposite Dominick Cruz, a fighter he's already beaten before. But what else is there to say?
When the WEC was merged into the UFC, many felt as if Urijah Faber would become a huge star, but I'm not entirely convinced.
I'm sure that he can still be quite successful, but his future is far from certain.
Although he's beaten Cruz before, Cruz is by far the more improved fighter since that point.
Should Cruz beat Faber, Faber might soon find himself in some serious Rich Franklin territory, where he's fighting in interesting fights, but isn't really the superstar that many thought he'd become.
At this point in time, you might be inclined to scoff at my words, but consider a few other factors:
Urijah Faber turns 32 this May. Given the nature of the sport that relies so heavily on speed and reflexes, he may already be past his prime as a competitor.
Dominick Cruz is only 25, and was only 21 years old the first time they fought.
But not only is age a factor, the newness of the division is something else to consider.
The Newness of the Lighter Weight Classes
Before the UFC added the lower weight classes, there was little financial incentive for fighters to cut down to 145 and 135 because there simply wasn't enough money.
Frank Edgar is only slightly larger than Urijah Faber, but he chose to stick around at 155 in the UFC because that's where the big money was.
Now that the UFC has added those lower weight classes, fighters who fought above their natural weights will be cutting down to 145 and 135 to gain a competitive edge.
Not only that, but small wrestlers, BJJ practitioners and so on, who wouldn't even have considered MMA before because of the lack of money at their weights, might now be entering the sport.
The truth is that there really wasn't a whole ton of talent in the lower classes until very recently.
Achievements at bantamweight just don't mean the same as achievements at welterweight.
Georges St. Pierre has beaten all-time greats, who themselves have beaten all-time greats, who have beaten pound-for-pound fighters, who have beaten perennial contenders, who have beaten fringe contenders, who have beaten good fighters who have beaten other good fighters, who have beaten gatekeepers who have beaten not-so-great fighters.
There is an established hierarchy there.
That kind of depth doesn't exist in the lower weight classes.
For an indication of this, go to fightmatrix.com, where an attempt has been made to weigh this kind of depth. According to fightmatrix.com's ratings, Dominick Cruz currently leads the bantamweight pack with 256 points. That number is dwarfed by the 1011 and 861 points of Anderson Silva and St. Pierre respectively, who get credit for beating fighters who themselves have beaten other accomplished fighters.
Only the flyweight and women's divisions have less depth than the bantamweight division, according to Fightmatrix.
This will change and when it does, we can't be so sure right now where Urijah Faber will stack up.
Of course, he could still beat Cruz and if he does, he'll be favored over whoever he faces next. But I wouldn't start counting your chickens quite yet when looking at the Urijah Faber basket.
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