Three Letters Tarnish Our View of Urijah Faber’s Mixed Martial Arts Legacy

February 7, 2014
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Urijah FaberAre a world champion’s achievements more valued based on the logo imprinted on the prize? That seems to be the case with UFC bantamweight contender Urijah Faber.

Faber (30-7) has accomplished the same feat as Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Cain Velasquez, Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell, and every other reigning or former UFC champion; he’s won the world title. What differentiates Faber from the others is he won his world title in an organization other than UFC.

Faber won the 145-pound world title by defeating Cole Escovedo on March 17, 2006, in the now-defunct World Extreme Cagefighting organization. He defended the title five times against Joe Pearson, Dominick Cruz, Chance Farrar, Jeff Curran and Jens Pulver, before losing the belt to Mike Brown in November 2008. The WEC was purchased by Zuffa LLC., the parent company of the UFC, in late 2006. Every one of Faber’s title defenses came under the Zuffa-owned WEC.

Zuffa ran the WEC as a separate organization featuring the lighter weight classes that weren’t represented in the UFC. The organization was folded over into the UFC and dismantled in 2010.

Some of the former WEC titleholders were not viewed as world champions at the time because they held titles in weight classes that overlapped the UFC, such as Carlos Condit in the welterweight division and Anthony Pettis in the lightweight division. But for the featherweight and bantamweight divisions, whomever held the WEC belt was viewed as the world champion. Two years after Faber lost the title, WEC featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo was named UFC featherweight champion before ever setting foot in the UFC Octagon.

“The California Kid” has fought in three UFC title fights and came up short each time. Following his loss to champion Renan Barão at UFC 169 on Feb. 1, flyweight contender Ian McCall tweeted, “Always a bridesmaid… Never a bride.” But Faber has been the bride. He’s had his wedding.

In business, it’s said that marketing is everything and everything is marketing. The same goes for mixed martial arts.

Faber should be recognized and remembered as a former world champion. He’s earned that. It had nothing to do with marketing and shouldn’t be diminished because the three letters on the belt weren’t “UFC.”

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  • Arxangel1

    Huh? I guess we should claim anyone that won a championship in any org as a former World Champion. UFC is the preeminent organization, with most ranked fighters(by the media) being from the UFC. Maybe if Faber didn’t have an injury excuse every single time he fought, win or lose, he’d be considered more of a champion… or maybe he could actually win a UFC title fight. But, as a concession, I will gladly always call him the former World Champion of the WEC, ’cause that is the most he will ever be.

    • cs

      The point is that he was pretty much the featherweight champ under zuffa before the ufc actually transferred them all over. He was the zuffa featherweight champion — the closest thing tge ufc had to an actual champion.

      • Arxangel1

        The point is always encapsulated in the first paragraph, and, in this case the very first sentence. Author is going to make the case that the organizations name on a belt doesn’t matter. As long as someone like Uriah has been any kind of a champion, the author makes the leap that the UFC title doesn’t carry any more weight than any other org. He uses his point to make a case for Uriah.

        • fritz

          He’s not making the case than any title is a world title, but that the WEC belt in that weight class was the only Zuffa champion in that weight class and should be considered equally to the current UFC (Zuffa) belt. Simply put, your initial statement overreaches far beyond what the author argues in his piece by ignoring the specifics in his argument.

          • Arxangel1

            Dude, no worries, you can consider Urijah one of the greats of all time. The writer compared Urijah, in paragraph two, very specifically, to Jon Jones, Anderson SIlva, St. Pierre!? I can’t respect what you are saying because you are not informed as an MMA fan if you think Faber’s name should be mentioned in the same breath as those long-standing champions. Fact: Urijah Faber has lost every title fight he has been in since Nov 5, 2008. 0-6 in his last six title fights? Fritz, you’re going to have to go follow another sport or become educated about MMA before opining.

        • DarlaS

          And I suppose you think that he was knocked out cold by Barao last week. IMHO, he was definitely losing the round, but not out by any means. Herb Dean is one of the best, but even the very best make mistakes at times.

          Can he beat Aldo? IMHO, no. Can he beat Barao? I’d pay to see a rematch.

          • stevies69

            Sorry, but Uriah was not going to pull out of that onslaught that Barao was giving. Uriah, ur getting old buddy and you would lose again in a rematch. Save your body and just build your school and other brand of business’s you have going on already. It’s just not working out for you bud.

    • Beau

      so was randy couture, or chuck liddell, or tito, or anyone else who held the belt before today’s “modern” UFC not a world champion either? was fedor not the world heavyweight champion even though he never fought in the UFC? pretty stupid f***ing premise, I must say.

      • James Perry

        No fedor will always be a scrub who couldn’t hang with any fighter ranked in the top 10 in the ufc. And that was when Brock was champ. He got ktfo by a mw.

    • Anthony

      youre an idiot, the WEC had the top level fighters for featherweight in below so how does that compare to any other organization? You shouldnt comment with your ignorant views

  • Maddawgmar

    Considering the WEC was the premier organization for FW and below, he was considered World Champion and was ranked as number 1 in the world. The fact that WEC was on the title is insignificant, based on the fact that there was no UFC title.

  • Joseph Phillips

    The only people that seem to make the fact that he was the WEC champ and not a UFC one is the media. Any true fan knows that at the time, the #1 Org for fighter’s under 145 was the WEC. I and many other’s consider him a legitimate title holder despite it not having UFC on the belt. If writers like you would stop trying to bring it up, it wouldn’t tarnish his legacy at all. but that’s what the media always tries to do, bring people down whenever possible.

  • Obi-Wan Granoli

    he took the last fight on short notice, he wasn’t ready or in fighting shape at all. he’ll be back and next time he’ll take it!

  • horace

    that midget dwarf half pint Faber never won a big fight ever and is a short loser. legacy for Faber is one of defeat

    • Hansa

      Stop horace!! I respect that you don’t like Faber, you are entitled to your opinion, but Faber is a true champ and a real gentleman..the way he reacted to the early stoppage was impressing. He was gracious and congratulatory to the winner and gracious to the ref- Any other fighter would’ve whine and grine..And please stop this name-calling, it is childish and very unrespectful.

      • horace

        Elf Faber isn’t a champion as the Fabe loses every big fight.

  • horace

    Fabers only legacy is the huge cleft chin maybe the biggest gap in the UFC.