Eight years ago today Urijah Faber successfully defended his WEC featherweight title with a decision win over Jens Pulver.
A few short months later, “The California Kid” dropped the title to Mike Brown and he has been chasing it ever since.
Faber will get another crack – his fourth since the WEC merged with the UFC – this Saturday to become a champion, as he takes on long-time rival Dominick Cruz in the co-main event of UFC 199.
At 37 years of age and with the division quickly filling up with viable contenders behind him, this is likely the best – and last – opportunity for Faber to say he is a UFC champion.
He attempted to re-claim WEC gold in 2009, falling to Brown via decision. A year later, he lost to Jose Aldo for the belt.
In 2011, Faber and Cruz went toe-to-toe for 25 minutes before “The Dominator” was declared the winner, evening their series up at 1-all. The rubber match could ultimately decide who is the best lighter-weight fighter of this generation in terms of American-born competitors.
The bout with Cruz wasn’t the only time Faber’s been inside the Octagon with gold hanging in the balance. He dropped a 2012 decision to Renan Barao for the interim title and was knocked out two years ago vs. Barao once more.
After suffering his first non-title fight loss to Frankie Edgar in 2015, Faber bounced back by defeating Frankie Saenz in December.
Luck then turned the way of the Team Alpha Male leader, as Cruz returned and bested T.J. Dillashaw for the title. While an immediate rematch between Cruz and Dillashaw could have worked, the fire that comes with pairing the two Californians together was too much for the UFC to ignore.
So we get another installment of this rivalry.
Faber and Cruz love to talk, especially about the other. But more importantly, once the cage door closes, both men deliver.
Saturday could very well be the final time we see them lock horns, so we better enjoy it!