Urijah Faber (28-6, 4-2 UFC) vs. Iuri Alcantara (28-4 1 NC, 3-1 1 NC UFC)
Faber and Alcantara will meet in a bantamweight bout that has serious title implications riding on the line for the winner. Faber comes into this fight having won two straight and was last seen submitting Scott Jorgensen in April. He has gone 3-2 over his last five bouts. Alcantara fights for the third time as a bantamweight and is looking to build off of a first-round TKO win over Illarde Santos in May. Alcantara has just one loss over his last 16 fights dating back to 2009.
Fight Breakdown- Faber’s last two fights inside the Octagon may have been the best back-to-back fights he’s put together over his career, or in the very least, since his time as WEC Featherweight Champion. His submission of Ivan Menjivar was a classic and was very impressive as he sunk in a standing rear-naked choke against the cage and forced Menjivar to submit. Menjivar is no pushover and is extremely skilled in jiu-jitsu, and that win at UFC 157 in February was back up when Faber took a short-notice opportunity to take on Jorgensen at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale. Faber and Jorgensen are friends and former training partners, and they went after each other. Faber showed he is ready to fight for the title yet again as he controlled the fast-paced, technical fight with his wrestling and striking before capitalizing on an opening and submitting Jorgensen, again with a rear-naked choke. Faber has a stiff challenge in Alcantara, who has put together an impressive record.
Alcantara was the last man to defeat featherweight top contender Ricardo Lamas, and he looked to be well on his way towards title contention at 145 pounds after two UFC wins over Felipe Arantes and Michihiro Omigawa. A loss to Hacran Dias in a lackluster fight took Alcantara out of featherweight contention, and he decided to move down to the bantamweight division. He should be 2-0 at 135 pounds so far, but his first fight with Pedro Nobre ended with an illegal strike, and UFC President Dana White was so upset at Nobre for the way he acted after that Nobre was immediately cut from the roster. Alcantara got his first official bantamweight win with a quick finish of Santos at UFC On FX 8 in May and gets the biggest fight of his career. Alcantara may be an unknown to most casual fans, but he is one of the most dangerous fighters at 135 pounds, and he has a very solid chance in defeating Faber.
This fight could lead to a very interesting battle on the feet. Faber is a creative striker with very good footwork, and as shown in his last two fights, his striking has gone to another level as Duane Ludwig has taken over Team Alpha Male. Faber attacks from all angles and uses feints, and he is not afraid to mix punches, kicks and knees while also working in some short elbows. Alcantara has a ton of power and can finish fights with his hands, and he will throw in some knees if he gets his opponent in close range. Faber has an excellent chin and can take some hard punches and is willing to take a few to look for a takedown, but he will need to respect the power of Alcantara. Alcantara should look to work with leg kicks as Jose Aldo and Renan Barao did, but Faber’s striking defense should also be well improved by working with Ludwig.
Faber will definitely be looking to take this fight to the mat. In Alcantara’s loss to Dias, Dias really controlled the wrestling and ground battle and Alcantara was repeatedly taken down. Faber will be looking for the takedowns, and while Alcantara is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and highly-skilled on the mat, Faber is no slouch down there. While Faber may only be a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, he fights like he is a black belt and is very proficient on the ground. Faber is a master of control from the top and will throw down with some punches and elbows on the ground. Alcantara works well from the bottom and will be throwing from the bottom as he likes to fight from his guard. Faber is very strong for a bantamweight, but Alcantara will be able to match his strength, but Faber’s wrestling control will net him the advantages on the ground.
Faber has been in plenty of big fights over his career as 17 of his 34 professional fights have been title fights. That’s amazing in its own right as that is half of his career. This is the big test for Alcantara as his highest-profile fight to date was his win over Lamas. Ironically, that has been the only time that Alcantara has fought in the United States, so he was able to adjust well to the difference between fighting in Brazil and in America. Alcantara should look to connect on Faber early and Faber is not a fighter that overestimates his opponents. While Faber may get a lot of criticism due to his numerous title shots, the fact remains he is the third-best bantamweight in the world at this moment, and with just a couple of changes, he could be the best and the champion. He is riding a huge wave of momentum, and the addition of Ludwig as his head coach was a positive move in the right direction. Faber is going to be a man possessed looking for that win, and while he may not finish Alcantara, Faber will be the man walking away with the win.
Why It Matters- Faber wants that title shot. The chance to be a UFC Champion is something that Faber has long desired. A 29th win on his resume may not net him an immediate title shot as Dominick Cruz looks set to return in early 2014, and there is the winner of Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland waiting for Cruz. Faber is also waiting for Cruz as he was set to get another shot at him before Cruz went down to injury. Faber wants that fight more than anything, and he will need to win this if he is ever gonna get that coveted title fight again.
Alcantara can make a statement with a win. The fact that Faber has never lost a fight that hasn’t been for a title is impressive in itself, and with a win, Alcantara would make history. It would also immediately vault him into the top ten in the UFC’s rankings, a spot that he currently does not hold. Faber has a lot to lose in facing a relative unknown, and Alcantara can make a huge name for himself. Alcantara’s future will be secured with an upset victory.