Urijah Faber is just that guy, he’s the guy. Depending on who you’re talking to he’s either one of the best fighters in the world below 155 pounds or just the guy who gets too many title shots, but no matter how you feel Faber is once again fighting for the world title.
Here I'm going to breakdown the match up between these two world class fighters and give my two sense on who is going to walk away with the Gold. Let’s dive in.
Since their last fight both fighters have become better mixed martial artists and have made some key changes. Faber has looked like a refined version of himself since adding head coach Duane Ludwig to his already amazing team Alpha Male. Renan Barao on the other hand has got some key experience by being in big fights by defending his title twice. With that being said let’s look at their numbers since the last time these two met.
Record 4-0. Finishes 3. Finishing rate 75%. Knockdowns 1. Takedowns 9. Str def 65% Str Acc 43%
At a glance you can clearly see that Faber had a stellar 2013 after his loss to Barao, and with four wins in a year over top competitors in Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen, luri Alcantara, and Michael McDonald just further shows how bad-ass Faber was this past year. (Note: Str def and acc are accumulated over all fights and not just the fights since his Barao loss)
Record 2-0. Finishes 2. Finishing rate 100%. Knockdowns 1. Takedowns 4. Str def 67% Str Acc 36%
Two title defences since his title win over and Baroa has look like a killer, showing more refined striking skills while still throwing his crazy techniques as seen in his spinning back kick KO of Eddie Wineland.
What does this all mean? Well since his loss to Barao, Faber has looked like the old "California Kid" from the WEC by going back to his old style of hunting for the submission. With 3 submission wins in 4 fights you’d guess that Faber has been training his ground game, but I don’t believe that’s the case. With the recent addition of Duane Ludwig as his head coach, Faber has become better in his striking game, which in my opinion opens up his opponents to his aggressive submissions.
For Barao his numbers haven’t changed a whole lot since his Faber fight, the biggest change I have seen is that he’s been challenged, specifically in his first title defence against Michael McDonald. McDonald was able to rock Barao and get on the inside, something he was able to change on the "fly" and turn it around by taking McDonald to the ground; something that didn't seem to be his game plan from the start. It was also shown that he’s tightened up his aggressive striking in his win against Eddie Wineland, only letting Wineland 21% of the strikes he threw.
In the first fight between these two the whole fight was contested on the feet, an area Faber has been working on fluently under the tutelage of Ludwig. Faber on the feet has a slight disadvantage on the striking defence being 2% worse than Barao, but still blocks 65% of the strikes thrown at him. While he has a disadvantage in the defence he also has an advantage in Accuracy over Baroa by almost 10%. This being said the stand up between these two should be close.
The biggest X-Factor going into this fight will have to be Faber taking it with only 3 weeks’ notice. Barao is a top 5 pvp fighter and 3 weeks’ notice would usually not be enough, but with Urijah just coming off a fight camp I don’t think it’ll be as big of issue as some speculate. The first fight was close so what says this one won’t be?
How does it go?
The first fight was a clear cut win for Barao but Faber was in the fight through and through. Both fighters were not able to create a significant change in the fight and both of them looked like they had gotten out of a hard sparring session (Minus Faber’s Rib injury). The big question mark in this fight is what happens if it hits the ground? Both fighters stood on the feet and never hit the mat, and with Faber scoring 3 submission wins in his last four it’s interesting to see how it would go. That being said I see Faber setting up his take-down with strikes and bringing this to the mat. Barao will look to replicate the same success he had in the first fight but will look to do more damage. In the end I think Faber will pull it off and show his experience over the younger Barao, but it’ll still be close.
Urijah Faber 48-47 Unanimous Decision