At age 34 and after 34 professional MMA fights, Urijah Faber has seen the sport from many different angles.
He's been at the bottom looking up, the top looking down, and the middle looking in both directions.
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In Faber's last five title fights since November 2008, he is 0-5. A somewhat surprising statistic for the former college wrestler who dominated the WEC with six straight title fight victories from March 2006 through June 2008.
So what exactly is Faber (28-6) looking for in the remainder of his fighting career?
“I have mixed feelings on that," the bantamweight Faber told Newsday last week. “A title run would be the ultimate goal. I’m ranked No. 2. That’s the goal. But the ultimate goal is to do the fights people want to see. And being the champion is something I want for myself and people want to see as well, but I want to fight the big fights.”
Faber fights Iuri Alcantara (27-4) this Saturday at UFC Fight Night in Boston on the debut of Fox Sports 1. That's his third fight in 2013, which includes wins over Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen. Nice wins, but not exactly the big fights he's looking for. Nor is Alcantara.
The big fights at 135 pounds are of course against champion Dominick Cruz (who has been out for two years with knee injuries) and interim champion Renan Barao.
Faber is 1-1 against Cruz. He also lost the interim title fight to Barao in the summer of 2012 in their only meeting. Once Cruz (19-1) is healthy enough to fight again -- he says possibly in February 2014 -- he'll likely face Barao (32-1).
That leaves Faber to fight third-ranked Michael McDonald, perhaps, should he beat Alcantara on Saturday. Nice fight, but is it that marquee bout he's looking for now?
“I see a super competitive weight class," Faber said. "We’re looking at guys who are splitting hairs between who’s going to win, who’s going to lose. I’m just doing my part, which is competing, continuing to fight and continuing to put on great performances and get Ws.”
The "big fights" won't be there at bantamweight for Faber until after Barao and Cruz meet. There are possible big fights at featherweight, though, a division Faber once ruled. Faber vs. Frankie Edgar -- at any weight class -- would be a "big fight."
As for Faber dropping down to flyweight to create some interest there with champion Demetrious Johnson, not a chance, he says.
"Yeah, right?" Faber said. "I put on between 17 and 19 pounds in eight hours after weigh-ins, so I probably would not be alive if I was 125 pounds."