Despite title losses, Faber still confident

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
7:29
AM ET
Dundas By Chad Dundas
ESPN.com
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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- It’s still good to be Urijah Faber.

If the man himself has anything to say about it, it’s going to stay that way for awhile.

Despite the fact that he’s lost his three most recent title opportunities and is just 4-4 in his last eight fights, Faber isn’t feeling any added urgency this week as he prepares for a No.1 contender bout against Brian Bowles at UFC 139. At 32 years old, it might be tempting to look at this as perhaps his last best opportunity to make a run at UFC gold, but Faber just doesn’t see things that way.

Not at all.

“I’ll make as many [title] shots as opportunity allows ...,” he said on Wednesday, after his open workout at Heroes Gym in downtown San Jose. “There’s a reason I’ve been at the top of the weight class, any weight class, since I started in this sport and that’s because there aren’t that many guys out there that can beat me.”

Hard to argue with that.

There is no question that after an eight-year MMA career, Faber remains among the best and most popular fighters in the UFC’s lighter weight classes. His unanimous decision loss to champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 132 was close enough for him to remain tied with teammate Joseph Benavidez as the No. 2-ranked bantamweight in the world and his status as a fan-favorite has made it a no-brainer for the company to insert him into a title eliminator against Bowles here.

To Faber, the outcome of the Cruz bout still seems like nothing more than a matter of opinion and he clearly doesn't believe is should raise any questions about his future in the division.
[+] EnlargeUrijah Faber
Dave MandelMixed results haven't discouraged Urijah Faber, left, from pursuing another title shot.

“There are people who thought I won that fight with Dominick Cruz and he’s pound-for-pound one of the best on the list,” Faber said. “Had I won that fight, I’d be pound-for-pound one of the best on the list and I’ve been here for eight years. It doesn’t make any sense for me not to be at the top.”

Of course to stay on top, he needs to win. Just 1-1 so far in his UFC career, he can’t go on being the bantamweight division’s biggest star if he doesn’t string together a few Ws. In the short-term, that obviously means defeating Bowles this weekend and in the big picture, it likely also means one day capturing another title, something he hasn’t been able to do since he lost his WEC featherweight crown to Mike Brown in November, 2008.

Still, as he approaches what some might consider a pivotal fight, the recent ups and downs Faber has experienced certainly haven't caused any personal soul-searching about his place in the sport. For now, he still knows where he belongs.

"I mean, I’m a top-level fighter,” he said. “I have been for years and I’m getting better ... If this guy [Bowles] is the No. 1 contender and I beat him, what’s the sense of me going any lower than that? It doesn’t make any sense. If he beats me, then that’s a different story. But I’m not going to let that happen.”

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