At one point or another in every fighter’s career, they are paired up against a lesser known opponent where they have much more to lose than to gain.
In the case of UFC bantamweight contender Urijah Faber (28-6 MMA, 4-2 UFC), that’s the exact situation he finds himself in against unheralded Brazilian Yuri Alcantara (28-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 26, which goes down Aug. 17 at Boston’s TD Garden.
Currently ranked among the top 135-pound fighters in the world, Faber is on the cusp of a title shot after back-to-back submissions of Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen in February and April of this year.
With an impressive resume under his belt, one would think “The California Kid” had intentions of facing the highest profile opponents possible in order to move up the ladder. Instead, Faber took a fight against someone looking to take what he’s got and doesn’t offer much in return.
People may wonder why Faber would accept a matchup against an opponent ranked outside the top-10 and with only one career victory in the weight class, but that’s not a thought that crosses his mind.
“His record, first off, is better than mine,” Faber said of Alcantara on MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “(His record is) 28-4, he’s fought in higher weight classes: ’55, ’45, two dominate fights at 135. I’m honored to fight guys like this.”
Although Alcantara has graced the octagon four times to date, all of his fights have taken place in his native Brazil, and he has yet to have the chance to compete on American soil or be exposed to the type of attention Faber has been the recipient of for years.
That means a majority of casual UFC fans are unaware of exactly who the 33-year-old is and what kind of skills he brings to the table.
Casual fans may not know how dangerous “Marajo” is, but Faber has been paying close attention. And whether or not he carries a big name, the former WEC champion knows that skill-for-skill Alcantara belongs in the cage with him.
“I do wish that he had more recognition, but you can’t knock the guy for his accomplishments and be like, ‘Oh he doesn’t deserve to fight me,’” Faber explained. “Heck yeah he deserves to fight me, and I deserve to fight him. This is top guys in the world and I love fights like this.”
While Faber can give Alcantara all the credit in the world to legitimize him as a worthy opponent, what matters more than anything is how the contest will play out on fight night. Most will expect the Team Alpha Male producet to wipe the floor with his unknown opponent, meaning anything less than a flawless performance could hinder Faber’s stock rather than help it.
With that thought in mind, Faber plans to push the pace from start to finish and either upstage his foe for every minute of every round or look for his third consecutive stoppage victory.
“My theory is try to win the whole fight,” Faber said. “Whatever it takes to win every minute of every fight, each part of the fight’s important. I always like to go for the finish, so I’m looking for the big shots, I’m looking for the submissions, I’m looking for the opportunity to put this guy away.”
Having his hand raised would mark Faber’s first three-fight win-streak since 2007. With a 6-0 record in his past six non-title fights and an 0-5 record in his past five championship fights, he is looking to get a streak going that would earn him yet another shot at a UFC belt.
While some may think he doesn’t have what it takes to become a world champion anymore, Faber is aware of how long he has been an elite competitor and doesn’t plan on letting his success fade before a belt is wrapped around his waist.
But he also knows that plan won’t be possible unless he gets past Alcantara.
“I think there’s no secret that I’m one of the top guys in the world,” Faber said of earning another championship fight. “I have been for the last 10 years, and I’m going to continue to be. (I’m going to) get that belt and continue to build my brand and make my name.”
For the latest on UFC Fight Night 26, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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