Urijah Faber and Michael MacDonald both are UFC bantamweights who’ve fallen short to champions. But it’s undeniable they belong at the top of the division.
The fighters both were victorious at this past Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 26 event, which begs the question whether they should compete to see who should be first to get another shot at a belt.
With a title-unification bout between injured champs Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao likely for next year, it might be a while before either steps into the No. 1 contender’s spot.
Now, it just so happens Faber (29-6 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and MacDonald (16-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) are friendly. Following his decision win over Yuri Alcantara on the FOX Sports 1-televised main card at Boston’s TD Garden, Faber said he conversed backstage with MacDonald, who submitted Brad Pickett on the event’s preliminary card.
The two live about an hour apart from each other in California, and Faber met MacDonald at his first fight at age 16. So they’ve got history.
“It’s been fun to watch the kid grow up and we’ve always had a pretty good relationship,” said Faber, a longtime Sacramento, following the event.
You might think that kind of relationship would nix a fight, or at least delay it until the stakes are bigger. Not so for Faber, whose like for the 22-year-old MacDonald won’t keep him from getting into the cage.
“I definitely think it’s a fight that will probably happen,” Faber said. “I don’t make the matchups … but I don’t want to be getting hit with any three-piece combos from this kid. It’s definitely going to be a battle if it ever happens.”
MacDonald, who lives in nearby Modesto, also seemed comfortable with the prospect when he addressed a potential fight.
“To me, this sport isn’t about having to hate people,” he said. “Brad is a good friend of mine, one of the good people you meet. There’s a few people you meet in this sport that are just good guys – Urijah’s a good guy. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time. Since my very first fight I’ve known him.
“If it happens, it happens. Just like what happened with me and Brad Pickett. We touch gloves, and we beat the crap out of each other, (and) hopefully make some money. This is our job, and let’s do it. Whenever the time calls for it.”
An impressed UFC President Dana White then interjected, “See that? That’s how it works.”
White, of course, is no stranger to teammates who don’t want to fight each other. But he’s often had to grapple with fighters who don’t want to compete because of current or previous relationships. Hearing Faber and MacDonald’s comments was music to his ears.
And a bout between them undoubtedly would produce fireworks.
Faber, a former WEC champ, has now won his past three and has lost only to Cruz and Barao since crossing over to the UFC. (In fact, he’s never lost in a non-title fight during his career.) He’s the promotion’s most popular male fighter in the lighter weight classes.
MacDonald, also a WEC vet, doesn’t yet have the star power of “The California Kid,” but a series of impressive performances has gotten fans to take notice. Following his win this past Saturday, he’s now 5-1 in the UFC with only a loss to Barao in February.
For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 26, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Urijah Faber)