What Does the Future Hold for Urijah Faber?

Urijah Faber grimaces in pain following a dominating loss to Jose Aldo at WEC 48. Will Urijah Faber go forward with another run at Aldo, or drop to 135 pounds? Photo by Esther Lin, Fanhouse

One of the possibly premature, yet interesting discussions stemming from Jose Aldo's dominating victory over former champion Urijah Faber on Saturday night is the future for Faber. While some fans are in the majority opinion that Jose Aldo may very well sit at the top of the heap for a very long time, others still believe Faber should be given his time to work at developing a gameplan or improving his skills enough to give Aldo a run for his money in a rematch down the road.

The idea that's developed in the camp of majority opinion is that Faber could drop down to bantamweight and challenge any number of top 135 pounders in a run for a title shot against current champion Dominick Cruz. After all, Faber handed Cruz his only professional loss back at WEC 26 in an one-sided affair that saw Cruz tap from a guillotine choke at 1:38 of the first round.

The question remains whether or not this is a premature thought from fans or would it be beneficial for Faber to take the step down to avoid a situation like that of the UFC's Rich Franklin in that the champion is just too skilled and dominant to be overcome at this stage in his career.

The case could be made that Faber deserves his chance to rematch Jose Aldo with a win over an up-and-coming challenger. After all, he's only lost to Mike Brown, Jose Aldo, and the UFC's Tyson Griffin in seven years of professional competition. Many would argue that Faber has the chops to defeat Brown, but would they venture the same feelings toward Faber in a rematch with Aldo? Plenty of us have been quick to point out that Aldo will dominate for years to come, but those same fans also said B.J. Penn couldn't be toppled at lightweight.

If Aldo dispatches of what looks like a very game Manny Gamburyan in a possible title showdown in the future and Faber impresses in a contention match-up, will we see a rematch in the works? I think we will, but Faber's future will be all but decided if he happens to lose that battle. Like Rich Franklin, he will have lost twice to a champion who seems to be in control of a division that doesn't have a whole lot of immediate challengers.

A drop to bantamweight offers a little more life for Faber if he happens to lose a rematch to Aldo, but it also offers options if he decides to make a drop now. While a battle with Miguel Torres is a lot less hyped now that Faber's teammate Joseph Benavidez completely demolished him at WEC 47, it is a fight that may draw some interest. What about Brian Bowles, Scott Jorgensen, or Takeya Mizugaki?

There is also some positives to be brought to the bantamweight division's exposure with a drop by Urijah Faber. He still draws an immense amount of fans to the WEC and ARCO Arena when fights are promoted there, but he's also been the face of the promotion for quite some time. That may be changing slightly nowadays, but he will still garner interest from fans. That could be good for some of the fighters in the bantamweight division and for the WEC.

The only slight hang-up with the move would be the possibility of Joseph Benavidez winning the title. As with most tight-knit fight camps in mixed martial arts, Faber would likely not vie for the title if a teammate held it. That somewhat limits the prospect of Faber at a new weight class, but it doesn't entirely eliminate the match-ups in the division that the WEC could promote.

And if Zuffa were to finally merge the bantamweight and featherweight divisions into the UFC, it'll make even more sense for Faber in giving him the paychecks he deserves along with potentially explosive battles against top notch competition at 135 pounds. Faber could take a page out of Franklin's book and fight at both weight classes as well? In any case, this could work out perfectly for him if Zuffa continues to work toward pay-per-views for the WEC or merges the promotions.

Personally, I think Faber deserves a rematch with Aldo down the road. While I think he'll run into another brick wall, it's still a solid drawing match-up if it's hyped correctly, and it'll solidify the idea of whether Faber should drop in weight or not. There wouldn't be any second thoughts about it.

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