The recipe should be simple. Take two top ranked pound-for-pound fighters, add a pinch of international rivalry, and throw it all in some sort of contained fighting area. The end result should be a fight-of-the-decade caliber contest and buttloads of money for all.
Yet, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto and "The California Kid" Urijah Faber may never have the opportunity to cook up this special sauce.
It's not for a lack of interest on either side. Sherdog recently had a piece on "Kid" where he had this to say:
Yamamoto also issued a challenge to WEC featherweight champion Faber, who has been long suggested as a worthy opponent for the aggressive fighter.
"He is welcome to come. I want that fight soon," said Yamamoto.
While Urijah Faber, who seemingly brings up Yamamoto in every interview he takes part in, called out the Japanese sensation last year in the LA Times:
"That's the fight I want," he said. "That's the guy people think can beat me. His name is out there so much. Most people say we're the two best guys at the weight. "
Unfortunately, promotional ties and economics get in the way. Faber is tied to Zuffa-owned World Extreme Cagefighting. Yamamoto fights for the new Dream promotion controlled by the financial monster FEG. Neither has any sort of name recognition in the home of the other.
Economically, the fight makes the most sense in the Land of the Rising Sun. Yamamoto has a much bigger presence in Japan than his American counterpart has in his own country. The problems with that scenario is 1) Zuffa has had a fairly strict policy of not renting out fighters after being burned by DSE and 2) Urijah Faber is as unknown in Japan as "Kid" Yamamoto is in the States. The incentive for FEG to ship an extraordinary amount of money to Zuffa simply does not exist.
The shame of the situation is that fans miss out on a pound-for-pound encounter between two guys who almost have a Ken/Ryu mirror image of each other. Both have very good wrestling backgrounds and have integrated technical standup to their games. While the edge in both may favor Yamamoto (who had Olympic wrestling aspirations and has also competed in K-1 kickboxing), Faber would come into the match as the bigger fighter.
From my perspective, Emelianenko/Couture is the only dream fight more intriguing. Unlike the heavyweight fight, however, the trans-Pacific kids are both in their physical primes. And with 38 wins and only 2 losses between them, it's a shame we may miss out on it.
Video of "Kid" wrestling his kid in the extended entry.