Something happened last weekend that hasn't happened in over three years, Urijah Faber was in a fight that was stopped by the referee and it wasn't his hand being raised, rather his face being tended to by his corner.
WEC 36 was supposed to be a last hurrah for Faber before the promotion took a good hard look at their future, but at its end, it was the contender, Mike Thomas Brown, wearing the belt out of the cage and Faber left asking questions.
For those who didn't see the match, Brown came out strong landing a few stinging punches, even rocking the defending champ, but Faber was able to answer for the most part.
That is, until, in a scramble after a Brown takedown, Faber attempted to throw a spinning elbow and ran smack into the right hand of Brown. Faber hit the mat and Brown closed in for a clean kill of the champion and the ref stopped the fight.
It is very clear that Faber was carless with his use of the elbow and perhaphs years of featherweight domination finally got to young fighter's head. The 29-year-old Faber still has alot of fighting ahead of him and it seems clear that he is become bored with the competition.
Until last weekend, Faber's only loss came from a three-round war with UFC Lightweight contender Tyson Griffin in 2005, which also ended in a TKO. Since then Faber has beaten 10 opponents with double-digit career wins, many of them more experienced and more battle tested. Faber walked through elite fighters such as WEC superstar Jeff Curran and former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver.
Faber has outstanding all-around skills, he is possible the most well-rounded fighter in world on a par with GSP, Anderson Silva and BJ Penn. His wrestling, BJJ and stand up are outstanding and Faber is blessed with world class speed.
The only thing he really lacks is build, Faber is small and compact, powerfully bulit but doesn't really have the heavy hands that you'd expect. He makes up for it with his excellent speed and technique.
The loss to Brown will reignite the fire in Faber that was so clearly missing from this recent fight, and Faber, ever a gym rat, will be back on top of the featherweight class in no time.
That said, is the featherweight class even were he belongs any more?
Many is the cry for Faber to gain some weight and move up into the UFC Lightweight division to match him against fighters like Sean Sherk, rematching Tyson Griffin and of course BJ Penn. The move to Lightweight would be the kind of challenge to match the drive of a great fighter like Faber.