Last night at WEC 52 Urijah Faber wrapped up his WEC career in style and sent a message to the rest of the competitors in the bantamweight division with a first round submission win over Takeya Mizugaki.
Now the former featherweight champion will pack his bags and move to the UFC to begin a new era, but what lies in store for him next?
Despite the fact that Faber’s form has been a little patchy recently, going 3-3 in the past two years, he’s undoubtedly the WEC’s most marketable fighter and there’s no question he’ll be given a big push in the UFC as well.
Therefore after one win at 135lbs he’s already right in the hunt for a title shot, and indeed there is now expectations that he will fight the winner of Dominick Cruz Vs Scott Jorgensen which takes place in December.
In fact Faber was already answering questions about the possibility of such a fight at last night’s post-fight press conference.
“[Scott and I] have a good relationship,” Faber told the assembled media. “He’s a guy I helped get into the sport a little bit. We’ve trained a bunch together. He’s mentally tough. I’d rather fight Dominick, but I’m rooting for Scott [to win that fight].”
From a marketing standpoint Cruz is the man Zuffa execs will be most excited about pairing up with Faber as there’s already bad blood between the two, with the normally mild-mannered ‘California Kid’ labelling Cruz an, “immature punk.”
If for any reason that fight does not take place the other obvious choice would be another of the WEC’s major stars and former bantamweight champion, Miguel Torres. This is a fight that’s been talked about for a long time and is as big a match-up as can be made from the WEC’s current roster of talent so it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
The reality is that the UFC can’t really lose here, any of the aforementioned fighters would make for a great first opponent for Faber.
The other interesting angle here is Faber’s potential participation in a forthcoming series of The Ultimate Fighter. With his charasmatic personality he’s a natural choice for the show, and both Cruz and in particular Torres opposite him should make for great TV.
The only potential issue is the timing of it. It seems that the UFC – WEC merger happened fairly quickly, and plans were already underway for the 13th season of TUF which is expected to be filmed in January. Ideally this would have been the perfect time to showcase new bantamweight and featherweight talent, but tryouts have already begun for the show with a focus on welterweights and middleweights.
So far the UFC are staying tight-lipped on the coaching situation but whether it’s now or later in 2011 Faber is almost certain to front a season of the show.