With UFC Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson out of his The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale bout with John Moraga, the Ultimate Fighting Championship scrambled to find a replacement. They found one in perennial bantamweight contender, and former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber. He’ll be taking on longtime divisional standout Scott "Young Guns" Jorgensen in what should be an action packed fight of wrestler-turned-fighter stand outs.
Urijah Faber was an all-league cornerback during his high school football career, as well as an excellent wrestler. In college, he walked on to the UC-Davis wrestling program, and was a two time NCAA Division 1 qualifier.
Faber has the easy going charisma and charm to make him a fan favorite, and his style of fighting usually makes for exciting battles that leave the fans thrilled. However, despite all that, and a myriad of title shots (five, since 2009), Faber hasn’t had gold around his waist of any kind since 2008, when Mike Brown knocked him out and stole the WEC title. This might be a headlining bout, but a win doesn’t necessarily put him back into a position he’s squandered before.
In Jorgensen, he faces a man with just one title shot under his belt, a unanimous decision loss to sidelined bantamweight kingpin Dominic Cruz. However, that lone loss shouldn’t be his sole highlight. Over the course of his Zuffa career, he’s 10-5, and coming off a thrilling submission victory over John Albert, a performance that earned him submission of the night and fight of the night.
Jorgensen began wrestling in the third grade, and continued to wrestle all the way up through his college career. He wrestled at Boise State University, and is a three time PAC-10 Champion. This wrestling pedigree has followed him into mixed martial arts, letting him dictate where the fight takes place, be it on the feet where he can trade leather, or on the ground where he can hunt for submissions and ground and pound.
Both of these men are primarily submission fighters, with a combined 18 fights ending by submission in their favor. However, Jorgensen is the heavier grinder of the two, with half of his career victories coming by decision. Will this indicate a boring fight? Definitely not. Jorgensen can stand and trade with the very best in the 135lb division, and Urijah Faber’s striking has evolved since his reign in the WEC, so if the fight does stay standing, expect fireworks.
In the wrestling department, I expect Faber to have the significant edge. While Jorgensen is a commendable wrestler, this is the area "The California Kid" should shine. I expect him to be quicker than Jorgensen, change levels more effectively and create scrambles where he can capitalize. If the fight does hit the ground, expect submission attempts to be thrown around, and expect Faber to be the one throwing. According to FightMetric.com, he attempts one submission every 15 minutes, even if his fights never go that long. While his ground game is predicated via top control, it’s something he gets from sweeps, not just takedowns. In fact, he’s 57% successful when he attempts to put his opponent on his back.
As far as effectiveness in the submission game goes, Faber has only not submitted three of his opponents under the Zuffa banner when he emerges victorious: former bantamweight champ Eddie Wineland, former UFC lightweight champ Jens Pulver, and Cole Escovedo when he first won the WEC 145lb strap back in 2006.
Jorgensen can shut the lights out too, however. In his last fight, he overcame several submission attempts to sink a rear naked choke with less than one second to go in the first round. Add onto that his submissions of Frank Gomez and Chad George, along with knockouts of Ken Stone and Noah Thomas, and we have a finisher fighting a finisher.
This fight shouldn’t go the distance, not as long both fighters are on their A game. I expect Faber will be the victor here, but I don’t think it’ll be as easy as everyone thinks it’ll be. Jorgensen’s a tough customer, but I think he gets submitted by a choke late in the fight, adding another scalp to Faber’s resume.