UFC 169 was supposed to be the fight card where UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and interim champion Renan Barao met to unify those titles. Instead, an injured groin forced Cruz from the card, and the UFC elected to strip Cruz's title and remove the interim tag from Barao's title.
With less than a month to go before the February 1 event, the UFC reached out to No. 1 ranked contender Urijah Faber to gauge his interest in facing Barao. Faber, no stranger to title fights, accepted the challenge.
According to UFC president Dana White, there was some initial hesitation from Faber when White made the call to see if Faber would take the fight. When you look at the circumstances, it's hard to blame Faber for some degree of reluctance. After all, Barao has defeated Faber before. Barao has not lost a fight since 2005, putting together a 32 fight unbeaten streak. Faber has less than one month to prepare, and oh yeah, Barao is a monster.
White, speaking to assembled media on Thursday ahead of Saturday's UFC on Fox 10 event, said that after that brief period of hesitation, Faber went all in, saying, "Yeah, let's do this. Let's do this man, I'm ready."
According to the UFC president if he could have shared that call with everyone, "Urijah Faber would be the biggest f---ing star on earth."
The Barao scrap will be Faber's fifth fight in less than a year. He has won the previous four contests by stoppage. His last win, a second round submission victory over Michael McDonald also earned him a $50,000 bonus for Submission of the Night. The last time Faber tasted defeat was his UFC 149 unanimous decision loss to then interim champion Barao in July 2012.
White commented on the run Faber has been on, saying, "He's a stud. I have so much respect for Urijah Faber. This will be his fifth fight in ten months; he's never looked better. The fights that he's been fighting have been awesome." White added, "Just his attitude, everything about the kid is awesome. I love Faber."
Barao and Faber will headline UFC 169 on February 1 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
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