(CagePotato was sent, anonymously, this picture with this not-so-subtle note attached, “Dear CagePotato, This is Yuri Alcantara.” Photo via MMAWeekly.)
You might not know this, Potato Nation, but last week it was announced that the already stacked UFC on Fox Sports 1 card picked up another big name in the form of Urijah Faber, the former WEC kingpin and much-beloved UFC bantamweight title challenger. All the major MMA media outlets reported his booking on the August 17th-scheduled card, yet next to no one seemed to be discussing it. You might be asking yourself, “How could one of the WEC’s biggest stars (if not the biggest) — a former title challenger, TUF coach, and ambitious entrepreneur who has his own honorary day in Sacramento — be so unjustly overlooked on such a monumental card?”
The answer is simple: Nobody, including Faber himself, has the slightest idea who his opponent is, or why the fight was booked in the first place.
We are speaking of Yuri Alcantara, the one-fight WEC and five-fight UFC veteran who, even in light of this fight booking, is all but completely unknown by many of the sports casual fans. Hell, even the diehards would probably have to consult Sherdog before pretending to know who Alcantara is. We’re talking about a guy whose most notorious UFC moment came when his opponent faked an injury at UFC on FX 7 and screwed him out of a victory for crying out loud. So he scores a quick KO over a UFC noob last month and suddenly he’s ready for a fighter of Faber’s caliber? Bitch, meet please.
Not since Mendes vs. McKenzie (fine, Sonnen vs. Jones) have we seen a fight so transparently tilted in one fighter’s favor. The fact that Faber is coming off a pair of dominant performances against a former WEC title challenger in Scott Jorgensen (currently “ranked” #7 by UFC.com) and Ivan Menjivar (ranked #9) only adds to the confusion. It’s also a discrepancy that Faber took note of when he was originally made aware of his next opponent (via MMAJunkie):
The face didn’t pop into my head when they said his name, but I remember seeing the guy fight, and he’s very tough…but that’s where I’m at in my career – where I’m not necessarily gaining a ton from this fight other than the fight itself.
The hard part on my side is, nobody knows who the heck he is and there’s nothing really to gain.
Although he may be an unknown to most of the people tuning in on August 17th, to say that Alcantara does not pose some possible threats to Faber would simply be foolish. For starters, he’s a BJJ black belt and five-time Muay Thai state champion, according to his UFC profile. He was also the inaugural lightweight champion of longtime Brazilian promotion Jungle Fight and currently holds an equal knockout to submission ratio in his 28 victories at 12 apiece.
He’s a dangerous guy is what we’re saying, but “The California Kid,” at least on paper, is on an entirely different level. So much so that you might also ask why Faber accepted a fight that 90% of his-caliber fighters would turn down in today’s MMA landscape. Well, the answer to that question is simple as well:
There wasn’t much out there for me. So I can just be thankful I have a fight – I get paid when I have a fight, my name’s out there when I have a fight, I get to do what I love when I have a fight. So as long as I approach it like that – the thing to gain here is another win on my record and one step closer to getting that belt, which is my goal, and putting on a great show for the fans. That’s what this means.
I want to stay active. This is what I do, and I’m here to fight. That’s why I’ve dedicated the last 10 years of my life to mixed martial arts. That’s what I do, so sign me up, and I’ll scrap.
As has become the norm with Faber, his reasoning is not only straightforward and sound, but incredibly humble as well. A win is a win, and that’s all that Faber is concerned about. Rightfully so.
But still, when faced with such a…peculiar matchup, we as fans can’t help but question the ulterior motives of the UFC. Are they hoping to provide Faber with enough momentum to finally get his trilogy-securing fight against Dominick Cruz? Does the UFC assume that Cruz will best Renan Barao when the two eventually meet? Will Cruz ever be able to put in a full training camp without suffering a debilitating injury? Fuckin’ magnets, how do they work?
Obviously, we are getting ahead of ourselves a little here. Who knows if Faber and Alcantara will even make it to the fight without one of them suffering an injury? For now, we should just appreciate the fact that these two will most likely put on a great show (that ends in Faber choking this poor bastard unconscious inside the first round) come August 17th. At least, that’s how Faber views the opportunity:
At this point in my career, I’m fighting to put on amazing fights to climb the way to the top. This guy, they think the world of. And even though nobody knows who he is, it’s going to be a very tough and competitive fight. But I’m going to win.
Does anyone else see this fight going down any differently? If so, please raise your hand so we can make sure not to give you a gold star for the day.