Coach: Urijah Faber a tougher fight for Renan Barao than Dominick Cruz

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Third time's the charm for Urijah Faber?

The former WEC featherweight champion earned his third shot at the UFC championship with a dominant win over Michael McDonald last December, and took a fight with bantamweight champion Renan Barao with less than a month’s notice at Newark’s UFC 169, on Feb. 1.

"He’s hungry, man," Team Alpha Male’s jiu-jitsu coach Fabio Prado told "He went to Mexico on vacation for two weeks and it was great, because now he’s completely recovered and free of injuries. He never stops training, so it was good that he relaxed for two weeks.

"He told me ‘Fabio, when I came back (to the U.S.) Dana White called me and asked if I would take the fight (with Barao), and I took it immediately. I never felt so good in my life.’ His mentality is great. He’s confident, he’s hungry, and he won’t lose this fight."

Faber fought Barao for the first time in 2011 for the interim bantamweight title, losing via unanimous decision. He has won four straight since, and his coach said they have made some changes that will be a huge factor in the rematch.

"That’s the surprise factor," he said. "We’re working on the mistakes. We changed a lot. We’ll have something new. Not only with jiu-jitsu, but his striking is much better now. He has evolved a lot since that fight. We have to respect Barao’s jiu-jitsu, but I believe in Faber everywhere the fight goes."

Team Alpha Male had a big year in 2013, but they still miss a UFC belt on their wall.

"It’s the icing on the cake," he said. "We started the year with the right foot, with TJ Dillashaw’s win (at UFC Fight Night 35), and now it’s time to get another one with Faber."

Dominick Cruz was expected to fight Barao at UFC 169, but was sidelined and stripped of his title with another injury. Faber took his place in the main event, and Prado is confident that he will bring more trouble for Barao.

"Dominick Cruz was injured for two years and Faber was training, fighting. This fight will be much tougher for Barao than Cruz, no doubt about it," he said.

"Faber will keep the pressure all the time, he won’t stop. I’m sure that Barao will be ready for five rounds because he was training to fight Dominick Cruz, so I know this is going to be the fight of the night."

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