Urijah Faber has had three title shots in the last 25 months.
Now, he has the chance to get a fourth opportunity. In his path back to Dominick Cruz is former WEC bantamweight champion Brian Bowles. Bowles lost the championship to Cruz in early 2010.
Since the loss to Cruz, Bowles has defeated both Damacio Page and Takeya Mizugaki. Those two wins were not enough to merit a title opportunity though. In order for Bowles to get a rematch with Cruz, he’ll have to beat Faber.
On the other hand, Faber never had to win more than two fights in a row to get the number one contender slot. This time Faber will only have to win one fight to get another chance, but he offers no apologies for what some people believe is preferential treatment for the former top star in WEC.
“This (fight) is to shut-up the naysayers,” Faber said about the Bowles match-up. “Beat a top contender then get back in there.”
“If somebody wants to beat me to get into one of these title shots? Go ahead and do it,” Faber said. “Mizugaki tried. Eddie Wineland tried. Rafael Assuncao tried. I beat those guys – top contenders – to get the title shots so say what you will.”
When Faber last fought Cruz in July 2011, the two were the first ever bantamweights to headline a UFC pay-per-view. The result was a very close decision, but Cruz got the nod.
As a result of the tight decision, Faber almost avoided even participating in a top contender’s fight.
“I think there was an idea to have an immediate rematch (with Cruz),” Faber said. “Although I thought I won the fight, the judges gave him a unanimous decision.”
Faber believes that he has the past credentials to earn him his multiple opportunities.
“I’ve been at the top of my weight division for 8 years – before anyone knew about the UFC,” Faber, the former featherweight champ, said. “I’ve held multiple world championships. I’ve only lost to a few guys in my career, and they were all in title fights.”
Even though Faber has had more big fight experience, he cannot look past the lesser-known Bowles. Bowles has a 10-1 record, and his only loss was in his first title defense against Cruz.
In that bout, the doctor stopped the fight after the second round because Bowles broke his hand.
“He’s very tough,” Faber said of Bowles. “I’ve trained with him before. I know what his strengths are.”
In his ten wins, Bowles has also finished his opponent nine times. The only man to even make it to the scorecards was Mizugaki.
While Faber is one of the most popular fighters in the UFC, Bowles has yet to appear on a main UFC PPV card.
“It’s one of those fights that isn’t the most rewarding due to the fan build-up because people don’t know him as much,” Faber said, “but when the fight happens, everyone is going to pleasantly surprised about what a great fight it is.”
Even though he slumped somewhat in his last eight fights going 4-4 (25-5 overall), Faber remains very confident in his abilities.
“I’m definitely better at everything but not by too much in any area,” Faber said, when asked to compare himself with Bowles. “I think it’s a tough fight.”
If Faber comes out ahead of Bowles, he will be set for a third match with Cruz. Before losing the July decision to the bantamweight champ, Faber submitted Cruz in less than two minutes back in 2007.
Now, Faber is trying to get back in the cage with Cruz. He thinks his whole body of work should be analyzed when determining title chances.
“Look, I’ve been doing the same thing for eight years now,” Faber said. “I’ve been at the top of my weight division for eight years – before anyone knew about the UFC. I’ve held multiple world championships.”
Faber does not pay close attention to those people that do not agree with his place near the top of UFC’s rankings, but he is aware that there are some conflicting opinions.
“There’s haters out there. The world is fueled by guys that are trying to look in the cage and throw in their opinion.”
In order for Faber to silence all the critics, he has a clear path in front of him – defeat Bowles then take the bantamweight championship from Cruz.