Now that Urijah Faber has returned to the UFC in triumphant fashion, “The California Kid” has responded to Henry Cejudo’s earlier callout and is driving for that fight. But, will the 40-year-old secure a bout with the champ-champ?
Faber ended his two-plus year retirement on Saturday at UFC Sacramento and battled rising bantamweight Ricky Simon. The latter cracked Faber with a hard left not long in, but moments later the UFC Hall of Famer decked Simon with a booming right and the fight was stopped soon after.
Well, following Cejudo’s win over Marlon Moraes last month at UFC 238, Faber was one of the fighters the new bantamweight champ included in his list of callouts. So, in Faber’s post-fight interview on Saturday, he relayed he’s down to fight Cejudo. Then, in the post-fight ESPN show, Tyron Woodley asked Faber about the odds of a bout with the decorated fighter taking place. Faber said this (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“Very good I would think,” Faber said. “Honestly, 2016 I left as a top contender. I was ranked No. 2 when I lost to Jimmie [Rivera], and he was just kicking my ankle a little bit. In retrospect, I came out on a win but I left a championship fighter. It’s about matchups. Dominick Cruz is a tough matchup, you guys know how awkward he is and he’s gotten better over time in my opinion.
“Henry broke or I would say out conditioned and kind of broke his last fight, [Marlon] Moraes, and I’m not the type of guy that will ever break. My jiu-jitsu is definitely better than Henry and he’s got that wrestling background and I love to wrestle. I think it’s a good matchup.”
Is Faber right? In terms of there being “very good” chances that he locks up a bout with Cejudo? It depends.
The expectation is that Cejudo won’t return to the cage until early 2020, as a result of shoulder surgery he recently had. So, if Cejudo does intend to defend the flyweight belt, one would think a bout with Joseph Benavidez could be next. After all, by January, 2020, it will be one year since Cejudo defended the 125 title by taking out T.J. Dillashaw. So, if that happens, the UFC might call on Faber to fight someone else in the interim. That would open the door to various scenarios that could hit Faber’s chances of fighting Cejudo.
But what if Cejudo decides his days at 125 are done? Or, if he makes it clear he wants to fight a big name bantamweight like Faber next? Then, don’t be surprised if Cejudo – Faber happens in early 2020. Yes, even if from a meritocratic perspective, the #2 ranked Aljamain Sterling should be fighting for the 135 crown.