By Andrew Gladstone
On April 24th “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (23-3) could embark on his last shot at the WEC Featherweight Championship when he takes on current WEC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo in front of his hometown crowd in Sacramento, California.
Like all stories, we must start from the beginning. “The California Kid” Urijah Faber’s story began after he joined the University of California-Davis wrestling program as an alternate. It was later after his freshman year; Faber was awarded a scholarship and a starting spot at 133lbs. Faber would finish his collegiate wrestling career as an all-time leader for UC-Davis, and would later become a wrestling coach there.
Urijah Faber first debuted in the world of mixed martial arts in 2003, when he defeated Jay Valencia by submission via guillotine choke for the Gladiator Challenge promotion. In only Faber’s third fight, he dethroned the then Gladiator Challenge lightweight champion David Velasquez. After racking up seven wins in a row, Faber would first taste defeat at the hands of UFC Lightweight contender Tyson Griffin. After the loss to Griffin, Urijah would cut down to 145lbs and begin to solidify his legacy as one of the best featherweight fighters of all time.
Outside the WEC, Faber managed to be victorious over the likes of current DREAM Featherweight champion Bibiano Fernandes, Charlie Valencia, and the always colorful Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett.
In Urijah Faber’s WEC debut, he would meet then champion Cole “The Triangular Strangler” Escovedo and managed to defeat him by technical knock out via corner stoppage at the end of round two. After winning the WEC Featherweight Championship, Urijah would defend the title four times and along the way defeated the likes of Jens Pulver, Jeff Curran, and current WEC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz.
On November of 2008 in front of a sold out crowd in Hollywood, Florida, Mike Brown shocked Urijah Faber and the entire world when he defeated Faber by technical knock out in the first round. Faber would make no excuses for his loss, and stated that when he went for a wild spinning elbow, that Mike Brown just caught him on the button with a perfectly timed right hand.
Urijah Faber would look to bounce back off his devastating loss to Mike Brown and face former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver for the second time. From the opening bell you could tell that Urijah Faber was on a mission, and did not want the fight to go the distance like it had previously. After Urijah Faber floored Pulver with a body shot, Faber would then proceed to land a perfectly executed guillotine choke. Not shortly after the bout, it was announced that Faber would get a rematch for the title against Mike Brown in Faber’s hometown of Sacramento.
It was at WEC 41 in Sacramento, California in front of Faber’s hometown crowd where Mike Brown would defeat the face of the WEC once again. After winning a close first round, Faber would break his right hand after going for an overhand right that hit the forehead of Brown. Faber would also claim that in the third round he fractured his left hand that would leave him virtually weaponless in a battle against the then #1 Featherweight in the world. Despite the loss, Faber would fight valiantly for five rounds and display the heart of a true champion.
After losing to Mike Brown twice, many thought Urijah may move down to Bantamweight, or would have to fight several top contenders to get back to the title hunt. However, after “WEC 44: Brown vs. Aldo” a new champion was crowned and Faber’s old nemesis Brown was another victim of Jose Aldo. Shortly after the bout, it was announced that Urijah Faber would meet top-five ranked Brazilian Raphael Assuncao to determine the number one contender for Aldo’s belt.
On January 10th at WEC 46: Varner vs. Henderson, The California Kid would return to his winning ways as he displayed his drastically improved fight game when he submitted Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Raphael Assuncao. Faber made a statement in front of his hometown crowd in Sacramento, proving that he was worthy of another title shot after knocking down Assuncao who had never been previously knocked down and submitting Assuncao who had never been previously submitted after his long fight career. After the fight with Assuncao was over, it was announced that Faber would fight Jose Aldo.
Now that Faber is back in the title picture, one has to wonder if this is truly Faber’s last chance at the title. If Faber is to lose here, after back-back losses to Mike Brown, his future in the Featherweight division will certainly look grim. With WEC 48 just being a few short days away, one has to question how Faber will be prepared for the onslaught that is Jose Aldo.
On Saturday April 24th, if “The California Kid” can pull off the victory over Jose Aldo, he will be the first two-time WEC Featherweight Champion, and solidify his place in history as one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in mixed martial arts. A win will also give Faber the distinction of being the first man to defeat Aldo in the featherweight division and in the WEC.
For the last few years, a star has shined brightly over one Urijah Faber. But the question remains; will Aldo be too much for him? Or maybe just maybe, will Faber be too much for the current champion Jose Aldo? On Saturday April 24th we will find out, as “WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber” will be live at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California in front of a heavily Faber-biased crowd. Be ready. Sparks will fly.