It seems like crazy déjà vu or, at the very least, the MMA version of Groundhog Day. Dominick Cruz is out and stripped of his bantamweight title, and in comes Urijah Faber to face Renan Barao in another title shot.

Faber’s upcoming second fight with Barao marks the third time that “The California Kid” has won himself a title shot as a UFC bantamweight. Since losing the featherweight belt to Mike Brown at WEC 36, Faber has had four title shots—two at featherweight under the WEC banner and two at bantamweight in the UFC.

That right there is the perfect example of the perennial title contender, the man who always is near the top and is always a threat to the champion.

But, unfortunately for Faber, those four title shots have been lacking one major thing—a Faber victory.

Faber is 0-4 in those bouts and, outside of the Cruz fight, he really hasn’t been close to winning despite putting forth a valiant effort. Faber has been unlucky at times. Against Jose Aldo, Faber broke his hands and ate way too many leg kicks that caused his leg to swell up the next day.

Despite all that, we come back to the present and Faber’s next title shot. Some fans aren’t pleased about it. They feel that Faber doesn’t deserve yet another crack at the belt. Some also say that the UFC is pretty much gifting these title shots to Faber, who undoubtedly is one of the most charismatic and popular personalities on the UFC roster.

I came into writing this thinking the same way. Why does Faber deserve another title shot? It seems like a ludicrous idea, especially considering the way his last fight with Barao went. That isn’t to mention how he did against a similar opponent, Barao’s teammate, Aldo.

So, that was my first thought. As much as I grew into this sport watching Faber, it just didn’t click. But that is the thing with title shots. Despite how many previous attempts you have had at the title, if you earned another shot, then it’s yours. Who am I to take that away from somebody?

Fans will sit here and gripe about how it’s yet another title shot for Faber that is destined to end up a fifth loss for him in the title game. Why does he deserve it over other names in the division?

Honestly, though, who else in this division could be more deserving than Faber at this point in time for the title? Michael McDonald, the No. 2 on the UFC rankings, just got clipped by Faber. Eddie Wineland fights in a couple weeks and is just coming off a title loss to Barao. Raphael Assuncao has yet to beat a real top-five fighter. So who is there in the division that can top what Faber did?

2013 was Faber’s year. Faber took 2013 to the woodshed and rattled off four victories.

The UFC didn’t throw him meatballs down the middle either. Faber’s year consisted of beating Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen, Yuri Alcantara and then finishing it off with McDonald. That isn’t to mention that Alcantara was the only man to leave that Octagon without being finished. Jorgensen, Menjivar and McDonald—if you were ranking those names, those would be the top three fighters on that list—all succumbed to being choked out.

You can’t take this fight away from Faber, despite his past failures in his four title bids. Faber earned this shot through a grinding four fights over the course of one year. You could say Faber didn’t really earn his last two title fights, but for this one, you really can’t make that same claim.

At age 34, Faber possibly doesn’t have many years remaining in the sport. His career is certainly starting to dwindle down, but yet he hasn’t shown any signs of stopping. His last five losses have all come in title fights. Nobody can beat Faber when the belt isn’t on the line.

Faber earned this shot, and so what if it’s his fifth? Title shots generally go to the most deserving fighter, the fighter who has proven the most and beaten the best guys. Is anybody else in the top five at bantamweight eligible to say they’ve recently done better than Faber?

No.

Faber has a shot here. It may be an outside shot and it may be the biggest battle of his career, but he has a shot. It isn’t like Chael Sonnen versus Jon Jones, where everyone knew the outcome going into the fight and saw no reasonable way for Sonnen to win. Here, if Faber can slow down Barao, avoid the heavy hands and take Barao down or clinch and secure that super-tight guillotine choke that has dropped the likes of many, then Faber can win.

The avenues are there for Faber to win this fight and for Faber to turn from zero to hero in the limelight at UFC 169. In the immortal words of the Nas classic “Hate Me Now,” they want Faber off the scene fast, but good things last.

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.