After Mike Brown retained his WEC featherweight belt, thoughts immediately went to a rematch with the former champion Urijah Faber. Versus conveniently cut away to the spectating Faber as Brown commented on the likelihood of a rematch. It was a strange place for the former champion to be in.
Urijah Faber was marketed perfectly to the MMA audience. He is good looking, charismatic and has great nickname in the “California Kid.” Faber has successfully taken that image into a marketable brand, he is the only WEC fighter to translate success into television commercials. Faber’s fight with Jens Pulver garnered the highest ratings for the WEC on Versus ever. Faber and the WEC are inextricably linked, with Faber being the face of the promotion similar to a franchise quarterback.
Then Mike Brown arrived. When Brown knocked out Urijah Faber at WEC 36, their must have been a collective gulp by WEC executives and fans a like. Could the cult of Faber be in danger? Was this upset simply a fluke a la Matt Serra over Georges St. Pierre, or was it a thematic shift more akin to Evans over Liddell?
That answer has yet to be written.
Mike Brown added another chapter to the story Sunday night with his dominating performance over Leonard Garcia.
Mike Brown dispatched Garcia in under two minutes. Brown started by landing a huge overhand right, which he followed with ground and pound. From there Brown didn’t let Garcia recover, instead keeping the pressure on Garcia with submission attempts, which ended the fight. Ironically, it looked similar to Urijah Faber, except better.
After the Garcia fight, I started questioning whether Brown may simply be a bad match up for Faber. That question will be answered sooner rather than later, but after re-watching both of Brown’s fights against Faber and Garcia I feel safe in concluding that Faber has an uphill battle ahead of him.
Mike Brown possesses better and more powerful striking with a significant strength advantage. Remember when he effortlessly pushed Urijah out of the clinch? Can Faber take Mike Brown to the canvas? He couldn’t in their last fight. Will Urijah be able to out strike the more powerful and technical opponent? What happens to the WEC if their most marketable star is stuck in Rich Franklin limbo (being able to beat everyone in the division except the champion)?
In the aftermath of their first fight, some said that perhaps Urijah was simply over confident, which bred the unorthodox back elbow precipitating his defeat. Yet the more I watch Brown fight the more I see a well-rounded fighter that can neutralize Faber’s skill set.
As a fan, I can’t wait for these two to fight again and provide real answers to these questions. But right now, I think Brown holds a considerable advantage over the “California Kid.”
Zak Woods is the founder of the mixed martial arts blog WatchKalibRun.com