Urijah Faber | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Urijah Faber may not be chasing the UFC bantamweight title any longer but he’s still keeping an eye on the division he called home for several years.
In fact, “The California Kid” believes that bantamweight is better than it’s ever been with Henry Cejudo cemented as champion with a string of top contenders all gunning for his championship.
Two potential challengers—Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling—have been vocal about Cejudo ducking the best fighters at 135 pounds in favor of pursuing a fight against former featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who is currently 0-1 at 135 pounds with two losses in a row overall on his record.
For his part, Faber can’t fault Cejudo for going after a more profitable fight against Aldo with signs pointing towards that title bout being booked for May in Brazil.
“I know he just wants to make money and I can’t blame him,” Faber told MMA Fighting when asked about Cejudo. “They want to make a paycheck. It’s not about making it, it’s about making it and keeping it.”
Many believe Yan should be the person facing Cejudo instead of Aldo after he moved to 6-0 in the UFC with a win over Faber this past December.
While he certainly gives credit where credit is due, Faber’s not so sure that’s the win to help Yan secure his title shot.
“There’s so many good people in the division. I really feel like this is the most exciting the division has ever been,” Faber said. “You could make a case for Yan. Beating me at 40 [years old] like that is not necessarily the thing that’s going to get him the nod.
“I don’t think Yan is necessarily is 100 percent the guy to get it but I wouldn’t blink and say that he couldn’t get it either.”
Faber is quick to point out in addition to Yan there is a long list of fighters all lining up to get a shot at Cejudo’s title, which is why he feels the bantamweight division is better than ever before right now.
“I mean [Jose] Aldo looked really good. [Marlon] Moraes looked really good. You’ve got Aljamain Sterling, who’s coming out,” Faber said. “You’ve got Cody [Garbrandt] coming back and he’s motivated and he’s training his ass off. You’ve got [Raphael] Assuncao. I was watching some old fights of Assuncao with Cody and that guy’s been in the top-five for like 10 years. There’s a lot of guys.
“[T.J. Dillashaw] is a cheat, he’s going to be coming out of his suspension. There’s a lot of interesting things.”
One person who hasn’t been mentioned much lately is former 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz, who hasn’t fought since losing the title to Cody Garbrandt back in 2016.
Injuries have cost Cruz a huge part of time during the prime of his career but at 34, he still potentially has a lot of time left in front of him once he’s healthy again.
Cruz has stated that he will be ready to fight in 2020 and Faber sees his former rival as the dark horse that could turn the entire division on its head once he returns.
“I think Dominick Cruz would be a nightmare matchup for Yan,” Faber said. “Maybe have Dominick come out and fight Yan and the winner of that [gets the title shot]. Everyone’s sleeping on Dominick Cruz.”
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