After a short run on the original Fox Networks formatting, the UFC will shift from a combination of FX and Fuel TV over to the new flagship sports station, Fox Sports 1. To kick off the birth of its new channel, Fox will air UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen as the first live sporting event on the network. Although the main event and co-main event are decent match-ups for the show, the middle fight on the main card is the one to watch and bears implications toward the bantamweight title hunt.

The fourth fight on the main card features former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champ Urijah Faber facing off against fellow MMA vet Yuri Alcantara. This will be Faber’s 18th fight under a Zuffa LLC promotion and seventh under the UFC banner, while Alcantara will be making only his seventh appearance for Zuffa.

Faber has been a longtime fixture in the sport. Previously holding titles in three different promotions, the Team Alpha Male founder has become an icon for the lighter weight divisions. His team, which trains out of his gym, Ultimate Fitness in Sacramento, Calif., houses some of the brightest and best stars in the “lightweight and under” category. He is 28-6 as a professional, having only been stopped twice, with his four other losses coming by decision in title fights. After a setback in the UFC interim featherweight title fight with Renan Barao in July 2012, Faber came back on a mission with submission victories over Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen. However, streaking or not, he faces a tough promotional up-and-comer in Alcantara.

Alcantara is a nine-year veteran sporting a 28-4-1 record. Until his WEC debut in December 2010, he had never fought outside of his native Brazil and hasn’t since. In the last four years, the 33-year-old has only lost twice in 19 fights, and only one was by stoppage. Alcantara is coming off a first-round TKO of Iliarde Santos and is looking to continue his climb up the UFC bantamweight ladder.

Both men are coming off stoppage wins and need to continue their winning ways to remain relevant in the bantamweight title hunt. Faber and Alcantara are both exciting, in-your-face fighters that are sure to put on a great show live from TD Garden in Boston, Mass., this Saturday night for the inaugural live broadcast on UFC on Fox Sports 1.

Let’s take a deeper look at the match-up. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match up against one another using similar scoring to the unified rules.

Striking: Faber – 10, Alcantara – 10

If this fight was never to leave the feet, the fans surely would not be disappointed. Faber and Alcantara are fun strikers with forward-pressing styles and solid clinch work. While they do have some similarities, their styles are slightly different. Faber is a creative striker, using odd angles for both punches and elbows with a few leg kicks thrown into the mix. Alcantara is more of a power striker with a nasty left haymaker that, if connected, can put any fighter to sleep. He also uses vicious knees in the clinch that do a lot of damage to his opponent’s torso.

The biggest difference, however, is probably in their respective winning styles. Alcantara has 12 wins by knockout, compared to Faber’s seven, but what’s more important is that the Brazilian’s last three stoppages were by KO or TKO, compared to Faber, who hasn’t knocked out an opponent in over six years, since before joining Zuffa.

While the striking favor tends to lean toward Alcantara, Faber has a new coach in the gym in the form of former kickboxing world champ and UFC vet Duane “Bang” Ludwig. As Faber’s teammates have been proving over the last few months, Ludwig has a lot to offer Team Alpha Male in the form of striking, and Faber trains under him a few times a week.

The striking game is a toss-up. Etiher of these pros could take this one standing.

Submission Grappling: Faber – 10, Alcantara – 10

The making of a great fight starts with the match-up, and if these guys aren’t the best match-up right now, then who is?

Alcantara is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and Faber is a brown belt. Both men are in double-digit wins by submission, with Faber having earned a few more. Nobody would be wise to get on the ground with either. Faber uses more of a wrestling approach to his grappling, muscling his opponents from the top and searching for guillotine and rear-naked chokes. Alcantara, on the other hand, likes to fight from guard in typical BJJ fashion. With his traditional style, the Brazilian has many more submissions in his arsenal, utilizing triangle chokes, armbars and kneebars.

The most interesting aspect of this grappling match-up is that Alcantara is extremely proficient on the bottom and Faber is the same way from the top. Like striking, the grappling contest could go wither way. Both men are fierce competitors on the ground and could finish the other in dominant fashion.

Wrestling: Faber – 10, Alcantara – 9

As is often the case in MMA, wrestling could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Fortunately for fans, although Faber is an NCAA Division I wrestler out of the University of California at Davis, Alcantara is no slouch in the clinch or in top position on the ground.

As far as bantamweight wrestlers go, however, Faber is the cream of the crop. He overpowers his opponents and uses his stocky build to his advantage.  Alcantara may be a powerful guy, especially since he has fought as big as welterweight, but his traditional skill level will be slightly behind Faber, who trains with wrestlers every day.

Wrestling could easily be the turning point in this fight, with Faber utilizing his superior skills to out-wrestle Alcantara.


While experience in the form of time on the job and number of fights may not be a factor in this match-up, the respective skill levels of past opponents is. Alcantara may have fought some of Brazil’s best fighters, but Faber has fought most of the world’s best fighters in both the featherweight and bantamweight divisions. “The California Kid” has fought for titles in 10 of his last 18 fights. Alcantara’s second fight on U.S. soil will be the biggest fight of his career, but it’s just another day at the office for Faber. Faber definitely has the experience advantage in this bout.

Total: Faber – 30, Alcantara – 29

Verdict: Ultimately, Urijah Faber has a big advantage in pure experience, but Alcantara has a hunger that will not be denied. The Brazilian is coming and coming hard with impressive stand-up and submission games, but Faber has been the champ before and wants that strap back again. Faber is coming with equal striking and grappling, slightly better wrestling, and more relevant experience. Look for the former champ to take this one by unanimous decision on the road to another shot at the UFC bantamweight title.

Photo: Urijah Faber (L) delivers a knee (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator