There's no denying that last night's UFC Fight Night 26, UFC's Fox Sports 1 debut, was a fantastic card on paper and it delivered the goods from start to finish. From the standpoint of title relevancy, the two biggest fights on the evening both came in the bantamweight division. Urijah Faber overcame a very difficult start against Yuri Alcantara to win a unanimous decision and maintain his undefeated record in non-title fights. It was Faber's 3rd win in a row since his title loss to Renan Barao, and the only bantamweight opponents he hasn't finished are Eddie Wineland and Alcantara.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Michael McDonald, the accomplished singer, Mad TV actor, and ex K-1 fighter, absolutely demolished Brad Pickett on the preliminary card. He plastered the Brit in the opening round and showed off some submission skills with his beautiful triangle choke win in the 2nd round. McDonald was highly competitive in a title fight loss to Renan Barao, and you could argue that Pickett is the best win of his career.
To digress from the main point, McDonald vs. Pickett absolutely should've never been on the preliminary card to begin with, and the UFC made just about zero attempt to promote what ended up being the FOTN. Did it air on the same channel as the main card? Yes. But all of the advertisements were targeted at the main card start time of 8 PM ET. McDonald has youth, finishing ability, an exciting style, and as a North American he has the potential to gain a solid following in the continent. Uriah Hall/John Howard had no place on the main card and this is yet another case of TUF hype wrongly supplanting a superior, more relevant fight.
Okay, back to the topic at hand. Faber, in theory, has probably earned another title shot. He finished Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen, both of whom are notoriously hard to finish, and performed very well against Alcantara after the early scare. As for McDonald, he is only one fight removed from his loss to Barao but just wiped out a legitimate top 5 talent with consummate ease. It would stand to reason that another win should get him a title shot.
What would I do if I were the UFC? I'd have Faber and McDonald fight each other in a five round main event of a Fox Sports card. It is the best fight to make in the bantamweight division and it would have long-term importance for both men.
For Faber, a win over McDonald would give him 5 wins over the current top 10, and there would be no reason not to give him another crack at the title, whether he rematches Barao or Wineland or even Dominick Cruz. If McDonald wins, not only should it be considered an upset and a victory worth awarding another crack at the belt, but also a potential changing of the guard. Faber is 34 years old and has done a magnificent job of maintaining his status as a perennial top 3 fighter in multiple weight classes, but it's not something that is meant to last forever. Should Faber lose a non-title fight it makes it significantly more difficult for him to make another title push. On paper, Faber's wrestling, cardio, and top game could be too much for young "Mayday". On the other hand, McDonald is arguably the hardest puncher Faber has ever faced, and his hand speed combined with his accuracy and brutal combinations is something that could fluster Urijah.
Bantamweight is one of the UFC's thinner divisions, and realistically only the T.J. Dillashaw/Raphael Assuncao winner has a case to be next in line behind Faber and McDonald, so I don't see any reason for this fight not to happen.
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