The 411 MMA Top 10 03.04.13: Top 10 Urijah Faber Fights
Posted by Alex Rella on 03.04.2013
From his battles with Dominic Cruz and Jens Pulver to his WEC battles with Jeff Curran and more, 411's Alex Rella counts down the top 10 Urijah Faber fights of all time!
Urijah Faber's Top Ten Fights
It's the California Kid's time to shine in this week's MMA Top Ten. This was a fun list to do as Faber has had a lot of fun fights over the years and luckily a lot of them were online too. Faber gets criticized because he has lost five title fights in a row, but these guys were no slouches and he is still one of the best fighters in the lower weight classes today. Aldo is breaking all of Faber's records now, but he was the first truly great featherweight and a pioneer in the WEC. He may never win another title, but still one of the greats.
This week's list is based primarily on fight quality, then the significance of the fight in relation to Faber's career and MMA, and finally some of my personal opinion.
• Eddie Wineland UFC 128- Faber took on the former WEC bantamweight champion in his UFC debut. A fun back and forth fight in which Faber won by unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 29-28.
• Bibiano Fernandes KOTC- The future Dream featherweight and bantamweight champion had Faber's back for over two minutes, but could not lock in a rear naked choke. Faber would reverse the BJJ black belt and unload on him with elbows until the fight was stopped due to a cut.
10: VS Ivan Menjivar UFC 157
Faber's most recent fight makes the list at the ten spot. Everybody knew Faber was going to win this fight and he definitely delivered. Ivan Menjivar is a solid veteran with a 4-2 record in the UFC so the fight made sense. Menjivar started off pretty good connecting with two good punches and judo tossing Faber to the ground. This probably wasn't the best idea as Faber is the superior grappler and swept to top position fairly easily. Then Faber rained down some nice elbows and the final transition into the rear naked choke was borderline amazing. I'm glad that Faber is fighting Scott Jorgensen before moving into another title shot. It should be a fun fight and hopefully it will give him more time to finally learn how to defend leg kicks.
9: VS Dominic Cruz WEC 26
The rivalry is born. Faber was 18-1 and going for his second featherweight title defense when he took on Dominic Cruz for the first time at WEC 26. Cruz was undefeated at this point, but he was really young and still an inexperienced fighter. This was only his second fight at featherweight, first in the WEC, and he still had a bad bowl cut going on. This was a quick fight with both guys coming out swinging right at the start. It wasn't long until Faber took him to the ground and locked in a guillotine choke. Faber would go on to defend his title three more times and Cruz would win his next ten fights, the bantamweight title, and become one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. It really sucks that Cruz keeps getting hurt.
8:VS Jens Pulver WEC 38
Faber and Pulver first fought for the WEC featherweight title at WEC 34. That was a five round classic with Faber winning by unanimous decision. This one wasn't as good, but still a fun one round fight. Pulver had lost two in a row while Faber just lost his title to Mike Brown. Faber was far superior at this point and was the much more powerful striker. Faber won by guillotine choke at 1:34 in the first round and would put himself in a rematch with Mike Brown for the title. Pulver would then lose his fourth fight in a row and get released from the WEC. Pulver is now competing in OneFC and is at the point where each fight likely causes serious brain damage.
7:VS Raphael O. Assunção WEC 46
This is the point in Faber's career where nearly every other fight was one for the title. Faber took an extended break after sustaining multiple injuries in his rematch against Mike Brown. This time Faber took Assunção who was undefeated in the WEC at this point. The first round was nothing special, but we started to see some nice grappling in the second. Faber dropped him with a straight right hand in the third and eventually maneuvered his way to Assunção's back. Faber won Submission of the Night when he locked in a rear naked choke on the BJJ black belt. Not the most exciting fight, but it had some quality grappling and it further proved that Faber is one of the all time best submission artists in MMA.
6: VS Jeff Curran WEC 31
Jeff Curran isn't as good as his cousin Pat competing over in Bellator, but he has had a solid career so far. Jeff Curran has competed in every major company over his career and about a million smaller ones. The highlight of his career was when he took on Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight title while on a six fight winning streak. This was a fun fight and Faber's fourth title defense. Faber won with a guillotine choke in the second round and Curran would get released from the WEC after losing his next three fights.
5: VS Takeya MizugakI WEC 52
After Faber got wrecked by Jose Aldo in a featherweight title fight at WEC 48, he decided to drop down to bantamweight. In his debut at 135lbs, he took on the former number on contender Mizugaki. Mizugaki actually did a nice job of defending against Faber's wrestling, but Faber used his striking to control the fight and eventually take down Mizugaki. Faber took his back with ten seconds left in the round and choked him unconscious, earning Submission of the Night. This was his ninth win and final fight in the company as it merged with the UFC shortly after. Faber is tied with Antonio Banuelos and Poppies Martinez for the most wins in the company.
4: VS Mike Brown WEC 41
I recently discussed this rivalry two weeks ago when doing the potential trilogy list and it was what made me want to do a column on Faber. They first met at WEC 36 in 2008. At this point Faber was the most dominant champion in the company with five straight title defenses. Brown picked up the big upset and title fairly easily with a TKO victory in the first round. Brown would defend his title against Leonard Garcia and Faber would defeat Jens Pulver in a rematch at WEC 38 to set himself for the rematch with Brown. Brown won the rematch again at WEC 41, but this was still one of the best fights of Faber's career. Faber broke both his hands early in the fight and still kept coming using elbow strikes and kicks as his only offense. In the fifth round he threw caution to the wind and connected with 15 strikes even with his broken hands. Brown won the rematch by unanimous decision, but would end up losing his title in his next fight against Jose Aldo at WEC 44.
3: VS Brian Bowles UFC 139
UFC 139 is one of my all time favorite pay per view events. It had three great fights with Dan Henderson vs Shogun, Silva vs Cung Le, and Faber vs Brian Bowles. The rest of the main card and prelims were all pretty good too. This was Faber's first fight since losing to Cruz at UFC 132 and took on former WEC bantamweight champion Brian Bowles. Bowles is a high level grappler and is no slouch when it comes to striking either, but Faber showed he was superior in both aspects that night. The first round was close with Faber exploding on Bowles at the start of the second. He knocked him down with a knee and then he went to work until he locked in a guillotine choke to finish it. Faber would earn a second UFC bantamweight title shot and Bowles would disappear off the face of the earth.
2: VS Dominic Cruz UFC 132
Ten years after the WEC started, two of it's best fighters headlined UFC 132 in the UFC's first bantamweight title fight. This was the rematch from when these two fighters first met at WEC 26. Domonic Cruz was a much different fighter at this point in his career. The loss to Faber was the only one of his career and he had since dropped down to bantamweight, won the title, and defended the title twice at this point. Faber was also undefeated at 135 lbs and was looking to become one of the few people to win titles in two different weight classes. Most of the fight was spent standing up with Cruz being the more diverse and aggressive striker. Cruz is so good with his head movement, cardio, speed and he really used the larger UFC cage to his advantage in this one. But Faber showed off his experience and fighting IQ in this one too, he patiently waited for his moments and got in a lot of heavy shots that knocked him down at several points. Cruz got in more shots in nearly every striking exchange, but Faber would connect with these nice exit punches as they would back off. Cruz retained his title by unanimous decision in a bout that would win Fight of the Night and the best bantamweight fight ever in my opinion.
1: VS Jens Pulver WEC 34
This was one of the best and biggest fights in the history of the WEC. Former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver took on Faber in his final title defense. Pulver submitted Cub Swanson in his featherweight debut to earn the shot at Faber. Pulver pushed Faber more than anyone had been able to in the WEC at this point and this was the first time Faber went the full five rounds. This was a back and forth battle, but Faber was the better overall fighter in almost every aspect as he won by unanimous decision. This was the last big fight of Pulver's career and the biggest win of Faber's.
• So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fight out that you thought should be in the top 10.
• As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.
• Next week I'll stay with the smaller guys and rank the WEC's top ten fighters.