Urijah Faber acknowledges that he is the underdog going into his bantamweight bout against Petr Yan. However, he still expects to get the finish, let alone the victory.
Faber made a triumphant return to MMA in July when he knocked out Ricky Simon following a near three-year layoff. With his sights firmly set on the bantamweight title, he will now be taking on arguably the toughest possible challenge — other than the champion Henry Cejudo — in Yan at UFC 245 on December 14.
Yan joined the UFC last year and has gone 5-0 with dominant performances in each of his outings. Such were his performances that he has repeatedly complained about fellow bantamweights ducking him.
Faber isn’t one of them as he forecasts a tough but skillful contest with the Russian:
“You know, I’ve been watching a little bit of tape on Yan. He’s known as a striker but he’s got a very well-rounded game,” Faber told James Lynch of theScore. “He mixes together precision striking with some Hail Mary danger shots. And he’s not afraid to get on the ground and mix it up. I think it’s going to be a real skill fight all the way around.
“I don’t foresee him fatiguing and breaking. I don’t see me fatiguing and breaking. It’s going to be about who can get the positions where they can dominate. I feel like there are some things that I’m better than him at and there are maybe a few things that he’s better than me at. I think I’m going to best him. Getting the upset because I feel like there’s a lot of hype behind the guy. I just think it’ll be a wild fight. I see probably a finish. If not, we’ll go to war for three rounds.”
With Cejudo planning a comeback in early 2020, the question will soon arise — who should he defend his 135-pound title against first? There are a number of big matchups taking place soon that could determine that.
And Faber could certainly be in with a shout if he defeats Yan.
“Dana said, ‘Look, with you in the picture. It’s [Jose] Aldo vs. [Marlon] Moraes. [Cory] Sandhagen vs. Frankie [Edgar]. It’s you vs. Yan.’ I imagine whoever the highest-clouted guy is that wins — there’ll kind of be a lineup from there.
“But there’s also Dominick Cruz coming back soon. That guy is always a force to be reckoned with. Cody Garbrandt is on the comeback. We got TJ [Dillashaw] sitting there trying to figure out the next little way to get ahead. There’s a lot of guys out there. This could be win, lose or draw my last fight. I don’t know but I’ll always make myself available… I’ll be looking for the title fight.”
One thing is for sure — the bantamweight division has never been hotter.