Throwback Thursday: Urijah Faber vs Dominick Cruz, WEC 26 (March 24, 2007)

For this week we look a bit more recent of a fight, Urijah Faber's second defense of his WEC Featherweight title back in 2007.

In the aftermath of the UFC's debut on FS1 Urijah Faber's dominating win over Yuri Alcantara earned a great deal of reaction. One of the most common comments coming out of the fight is the idea Faber turns in excels in non-title fights, but cannot get over the hump in title fights. So for today's Throwback we will look back at a time that Faber ruled the Featherweight world.

World Extreme Cage fighting was started in 2001 as a rival MMA promotion to the UFC, based out of the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in California. In the early 2000's it was home for many future and former UFC stars including Carlos Condit, Chael Sonnen, Brian Stann, Karo Parisyan, Nick Diaz, Frank Shamrock, Chris Leben and more.

In 2006 Zuffa, the company that owns the UFC, run by the Feritta brothers and Dana White purchased the WEC. They disbanded all the weight-classes above Lightweight, folding them into the UFC. They kept Lightweight as kind of a minor league and there they developed future UFC stars like Ben Henderson. The WEC then also became home to the highest profile Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions in North American MMA.

At WEC 19, the WEC brought in the King of the Cage Bantamweight champion, a young wrestler named Urijah Faber to fight for their current Featherweight champion, Cole Escovedo in his second title defense. In March of 2007 Faber would face a young up and coming wrestler in Dominick Cruz for his second title defense. The challenger's talent was obvious, and while he was able to exploit Faber's then very underdeveloped striking it wasn't enough for Cruz as Faber's fantastic front headlock series claimed another victim.

Faber would become the longest reigning Featherweight champion in WEC history with five title defenses and was widely considered the #1 Featherweight in the world for two straight years. And even after he lost the belt to Mike Thomas Brown in November of 2008 Faber would continue to be the face of the division and the WEC. His rivalry with Cruz would be renewed in a close title fight at UFC 132 and a rubber match between those two could very possibly still happen.

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