For years Urijah Faber was the brightest jewel in the WEC. Despite a roster filled to the rafters with talented fighters, it was Faber who seemed to stand out above the rest. Sure, holding the WEC bantamweight title will undoubtedly increase your exposure in the sport of MMA, but Faber’s popularity transcended that of even a respectable champion. You see, Faber has the proverbial “It Factor” that marketing majors salivate over.
Of course, it’s not just marketing execs that are salivating. Faber leads credence to the oft thrown around maxim of “men want to be him; women want to be with him.” Yeah, it comes off as cliché but you could argue that it certainly reeks of truth as applied to Faber. Hell, name me one dude who would not long to have the physical fighting tools, the model looks, or the financial security of one Urijah Faber. Factor in that his laid-back, easy-going California surfer persona only endears him more to the public, and well folks, you have yourselves a bona fide star.
But, while it may have been easy to be the brightest star in a promotion that constantly struggled to gain the attention of the casual MMA fan, under the bright lights of the UFC being a breakout superstar will be significantly more difficult. After all, the UFC features fighters with larger-than-life personalities like Brock Lesnar, BJ Penn, Georges St-Pierre, and the list goes on and on. To be a transcendent star in the UFC means something, and requires swagger in abundance.
Fortunately, Faber seems to be trending in the direction of UFC superstar following his impressive performance at UFC 128 against Eddie Wineland. Despite being outclassed in the opening round, Faber did what great fighters do; find a way to win. It was an entertaining scrap and proved that Faber indeed belonged in the Octagon with his fellow former- WEC counterparts. With the win, Faber is tabbed to face Dominick Cruz in a showdown for Cruz’s bantamweight title.
This of course leads to the speculation that both Faber and Cruz may be tapped to coach opposite each other on The Ultimate Fighter 14. While UFC President Dana White has not indicated this to be a sure thing, common sense would dictate that such a move would bring in some pretty nice ratings. Faber is made for the television and the mutual animosity and personality clashes between him and Cruz would make for some great TV. Besides, don’t we owe it to the lighter weight classes to get a piece of the publicity pie?