Since Demetrious Johnson injured himself and wasn’t going to be able to defend his title in the main event of the TUF 17 Finale as planned, the UFC had to come up with a replacement fight, one with enough wow factor to serve as a suitable main event. Bantamweight mainstays Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen stepped up to fill in as headliners for the card in Las Vegas. Coincidentally, both fighters are coming off of late first round rear naked choke submission victories.
Faber and Jorgensen are two very well-rounded fighters. They’ve trained together in the past and are very familiar with each other. There’s not really a place where they are bad at, but neither is really unstoppable at anything either. If you take a look at champions, every single one is known for something special that they can rely on. Let’s try a little basic word association, for instance, what do you think of when you hear….Cain Velasquez? Cardio. Jose Aldo? Leg kicks. GSP? Take downs.
Faber is a balanced fighter with good submission skills. He has the ability to make guys tap, but has problems dealing with speedier opponents, like Cruz and Barao. His build is made to grind on guys and take them down to the ground. He’s a bit too thick to keep up with guys like Cruz and Barao on the feet, and that showed in those fights. In order to utilize his power advantage, he has to catch his opponent in a clinch first. An elite striker with speed and good movement can give Faber some trouble.
Jorgensen is rock solid on his feet, but he’s not at the level of Dominic Cruz or Renan Barao. Jorgensen however, might be a tad quicker than Faber – although he’s not nearly as powerful. Faber should utilize his size and strength advantage to take Jorgensen down and keep him there. His top control can cause a lot of problems for Jorgensen and could possibly set up a submission.
Jorgensen may want to take a page out of Dominic Cruz’s book and stay swift on the feet to keep Faber off balance. He doesn’t have the skillset and otherworldly movement of Cruz, but if he can manage to avoid getting taken down, he may be able to dictate the pace of the fight. If he can make this a technical boxing match, he may have a shot at the W.
Why It Matters
Urijah Faber is in a really weird place, it’s got to be causing headaches for the UFC. He keeps beating all of the up-and-coming challengers in the UFC, but whenever he faces a champion he just can’t seem to win. He’s like teammate Joseph Benavidez or Kenny Florian, who changed weight classes like pairs of socks. Faber is clearly too good for anybody who isn’t the champion, but he’s also clearly not as good as whoever the champion is. Jose Aldo ran a clinic on leg kicks in their fight, Dominic Cruz floated like a butterfly and stung like a…butterfly against him and Renan Barao demonstrated his superiority by opening up his entire arsenal. So the natural thing to do is give Faber another top ten guy. But he always beats them.
He’s not exactly a gatekeeper, if he is, he’s keeping the gate to just one person: the champion. Faber is more like the personal assistant to the champion; if you can get through him, you deserve a meeting with the champ. If you can’t, get back in the gym and hone your skills. Where he goes with a victory here is still a big question mark. Let’s be clear on what this fight really is: a “save the card” fight to stay active in the division. This is not a “determine the next potential title challenger” fight. Jorgensen is a top guy, but he won’t be challenging Renan Barao any time soon, or Dominick Cruz whenever his extended hiatus is over. A win over Jorgensen won’t vault Faber back into title consideration either, considering how thoroughly Barao outclassed him. There are a couple of guys in a similar position to Faber: Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, and as mentioned Joseph Benavidez. They all clearly lost in title fights, but they just don’t go away and beat anyone else you put in front of them.
A win here keeps Faber in the mix and waiting in the wings for yet another climb to the top. With the way injuries seem to keep popping up with the increasing intensity of training, we may see Faber in another title fight sooner rather than later. Jorgensen is in a similar situation. Like Faber, he’s already lost to the best two guys in the division in Cruz and Barao. His ceiling is pretty clear and it’s not likely to change at this point in his career. Faber’s ceiling might be higher than Jorgensen’s however, so look for him to chase down “Young Guns” and earn a victory.
Prediction – Faber by decision