For a long time Urijah Faber has been viewed as one of MMA’s greatest sub-155 pound fighters. He’s also one of the most popular competitors in the sport today. However, in many ways the second sentiment has influenced the first, as closer examination reveals Faber is 5-5 in his last ten fights despite having only turned 33 a few months back. He should be in his prime and yet it seems as though “The California Kid” is in decline.
This is no fault of Faber’s. The bantamweight/featherweight pools have deepened significantly since his heyday 2006-2008. The sport has also evolved to the point his pure athleticism, work ethic, and polished fundamentals aren’t enough to outclass opponents as they once were.
Fortunately, Faber’s condition is treatable, because at the end of the day he has a tremendous foundation to work with. He may have been a tick behind Renan Barao this past weekend in their title-fight at UFC 149 but he also escaped without any significant damage or embarrassment. Simply put, to take his game to a championship level where present-day circumstances are concerned, Faber needs to change camps.
No, he shouldn’t abandon his home-base of Team Alpha Male completely. He’s a businessman as much as he’s a fighter and he has a brand to protect. He’s also fiercely loyal to those around him and wants to see his teammates succeed as well. However, he’s not growing as much as he might with the influence of outsiders, and truly, why would he? He’s the best fighter in his gym and he works with the same core group of instructors.
If Faber were to spend a month of his camp training camp in a different environment it could have a significant impact on his in-ring performance. Imagine Faber’s basic skill-set with the addition of some new tools courtesy of Firas Zahabi, Greg Jackson, or any number of the other knowledgeable trainers outside of Sacramento. It would also give him a chance to focus 100% on his fight instead of the other things going on in the gym he owns/team he manages.
The reality is the “kid” is on the cusp of being a “man” where his remaining years in MMA are concerned. He should be peaking, not plateauing, and unless he mixes it up it won’t be long until he’s only a few more alternating wins/losses away from being a gatekeeper.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC