Brown won’t be the one to knock Faber off his throne

I have to say that I am looking forward to tonight’s WEC 36 (8 p.m. ET on VERSUS) card with more anticipation of any card since UFC 87 in August. To the typical casual fan, UFC 90′s main event between Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote was probably a much bigger deal but I think if you ask any hardcore fan, chances are they’re probably more excited about tonight’s main event between WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber and number one contender Mike Thomas Brown.

It’s not only a great matchup stylistically, but Brown is a far greater threat to Faber than Cote was to Silva. Faber, like Silva, is one of the world’s top pound-for-pound fighters but unlike Cote, Brown is actually considered a dangerous opponent.

Brown trains out of American Top Team and is a seven year veteran of the sport. After entering MMA with a great ground game, he has evolved over the years into a tremendous all-around fighter with no glaring weak areas. To describe his fighting style as anything other than a mixed martial artist at this stage of his career is a difficult task.

He’s fought all over the world against top lighter weight fighters such as Masakazu Imanari, Renato Tavares, Joe Lauzon, Genki Sudo, Hermes Franca, and Mark Hominick. Despite being heavily tested throughout his career, it was Brown’s unanimous decision victory over Yves Edwards — considered an upset at the time — during BodogFIGHT’s “Clash of the Nations” event in December of 2006 that really allowed him to increase his profile.

While the win over Edwards helped his cause, Brown has flown primarily under the radar despite being awarded a shot against Faber thanks in large part to a seven fight win streak. Even the WEC, which has done a great job marketing most of its talent, has dropped the ball with Brown. Debuting for the promotion at WEC 34 in Sacramento this past June, Brown recorded a unanimous decision victory over Jeff Curran.

The victory prompted many pundits to move Brown into their top ten at featherweight, yet it was still not shown on live television. The night’s main event of Faber vs. Jens Pulver recorded one of the largest ratings in the history of VERSUS yet the promotion failed to capitalize on the tremendous viewership by giving everyone a close look at Faber’s next foil.

While Faber vs. Pulver was promoted as the “biggest fight in WEC history,” Faber vs. Brown has the potential to be even more competitive. So much so that a few people in the industry whose opinion I respect have even gone so far as to predict that Brown will be the man to hand Faber just his second career loss and bring his four-fight reign as the promotion’s featherweight champ to an end.

As great as Brown is and as much as I am looking forward to tonight’s main event, I just don’t see Brown being able to join Tyson Griffin in the exclusive club of fighters that can claim a victory over Faber.
Sure, Brown has gotten a lot better working out of possibly the premier fight camp in the world right now in ATT but Faber is light years better than the guy who was TKO’d by a much larger Griffin at Gladiator Challenge 42 in September of 2005.

Brown poses a threat because like Griffin, he will most likely have a size advantage as well. While Faber could easily make the bantamweight limit of 135, Brown has competed at lightweight in the past and even had trouble making weight for tonight’s fight by coming in a half a pound over during his initial weigh-in attempt on Tuesday.

But outside of a size advantage, I don’t see what else Brown has going for him? Brown might have a higher belt rank and know a few more submissions than Faber but Faber’s jiu-jitsu is world class. His repertoire of submissions is limited in comparison to Brown’s, but in MMA, it’s often better to be great at 2-3 submissions as opposed to just being good at 8-10. And when it comes to wrestling, few are better in the lighter weight classes than Faber when it comes to takedowns, takedown defense, scrambling, and controlling position.

When you look at the standup, I see everything it as even. Faber has worked hard to improve on his feet and is no longer a ground guy with decent standup. He is truly a dual-threat after going toe-to-toe and outpointing Pulver for five rounds during their June encounter. If Faber was able to handle Pulver’s standup, I don’t see Brown being an issue because when it comes to featherweight strikers, it doesn’t get much more dangerous than Pulver. The former UFC lightweight champion is one of the few fighters competing below 145 pounds that can legitimately claim they have knockout power in their hands.

Brown could always try to take Faber out of his gameplan and apply constant pressure for five rounds, but the odds of out-working Faber aren’t very strong. Faber’s cardio is always excellent and he’s probably one of the few fighters in the world capable of fighting 7-8 rounds. If Brown tries to push him, Faber has more than enough gas in the tank to push right back.

The only way Faber loses if he took Brown lightly in preparing for him but I consider that to be a scenario even less likely than Brown being able to out-work Faber. Don’t let his youthful good looks fool you, Faber might be all California outside of the cage but inside of it he becomes a completely different person. If you want to talk “gameness,” look no further than Faber. I saw this first hand several years back when I was able to shadow him during a press stop he made in Philadelphia.

Faber was all jokes and smiles for much of the day with the lone exception of a 25-minute work out at Daddis Fight Camps’ South Philadelphia location. Once he took the mat, Faber became a man possessed and began to shadow box at a furious pace. From there, he hit the pads and worked the bag just to build up a sweat. Prior to working out, Faber categorized it as “light” but it became apparent after only a few minutes that his standard of “light” was much different than that of a typical fighter.

Perhaps I am reaching by referencing Faber’s intensity during a workout conducted on a press tour from a couple of years back, but when has Faber ever shown to anything but an intense competitor in his fights? Mike Thomas Brown poses a tremendous challenge but it’s one that Faber will certainly raise his game for. Tonight, Brown will become just another name on Faber’s growing list of victims.

27 COMMENTS
  • goodguy says:

    This is going to be one helluva fight. Like most of the world I will have to take Faber in this one. Sadly, I have only seen 2 of Browns fights (Curran and Yamazaki). Although I was impressed with Brown, Faber’s handling of Pulver was just SO damn impressive. I can only pray that both of these guys show up on top of their game and show some of the other weight divisions what an exciting match is supposed to look like. In my dreams I see light-heavys fighting like they weighed 145 lbs. *rolls over to dream of tonights match*

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  • Ian says:

    I’m looking more forward to this card than UFC 91, I can tell you that.

    One thing I’m completely baffled by is not having Cerrone vs. Mccullough on the broadcast.

    Anyway, Faber will beat Brown fairly easily in my opinion. The only threat I see to Faber right now in the WEC is Torres.

    All things being equal, Filho would normally beat Sonnen, but that’s not a guy you want to fight being less than 100%. It appears that’s the case for Filho, and if it is, Chael will beat him.

    Pulver will TKO Garcia, and Cerrone is going to submit Rob.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Ian, the WEC wants to be off the air by 10 so not to go head-to-head with TUF 8 on Spike. As such, they can only guarantee four fights. But I agree, one of those fights should be McCullough vs. Cerrone since the winner is likely to face Jamie Varner for the title in January.

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  • MWins says:

    Nice write up, Sam. I agree with you on all points. This event will be one to remember. This card is stacked. Why no 5 oz’s contributers break down of each of the fights, though? I always enjoy reading all the opinions of each fight.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    MWins, we have a preview up by Nick Traviligni in the features area. Check it out. Thanks.

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  • JJ Docker says:

    “..but in MMA, it’s often better to be great at 2-3 submissions as opposed to just being good at 8-10.”

    Very good point. Great article all-round, I too would be very surprised if Faber doesn’t take it.

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  • Jim says:

    wow you must feel like an idiot. Remind me never to listen to your opinion again

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  • Scott says:

    Yikes…time to eat your words, Sam.

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  • dave says:

    Ooops….Mike Brown Was the Guy the Guy to Dethrone Faber……

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  • Jim says:

    this article became just another on a growing list of terrible insight on your part

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  • Patrick says:

    Come on people, how many of you actually thought Brown would win? Don’t lie, we all thought Faber would win.

    Faber threw one of those unorthodox, dangerous strikes that he does so well… and this time it didn’t work out so great.

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  • Jeff L says:

    Faber looked way too cocky and got beat down. No doubt he bounces back strong, but that was no fluke.

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  • Patrick says:

    Also, let me note that the Caplan Curse strikes AGAIN… :(

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  • jaydog says:

    Sloppy elbow by Uriah. You should either have your opponent in danger or seriously outclassed when you do that. Props to Faber for trying to deliver an exciting fight. But I would have rather seen him fight a tentative fight, a la his fight with Pulver, than putting everything into a couple exchanges. Lesson learned, I’m sure. Faber will mop some fools up on his way back to the title.

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  • slap yo mammy says:

    yeah, that sure makes you look like a dummy. maybe no one else writes headlines like this, and maybe you shouldn’t either.

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  • MR ROZE says:

    The California Kid just got knocked the fuck out

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  • Kelly says:

    Wow funny how none of these people posted anything until after the event

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  • Robert says:

    Now all the people who thought Faber was better than Kid Yamamoto really look stupid he gets beat down by Brown and Pulver gets taken out in just over a minute the same Pulver who went 5 rounds with Faber a few months ago.

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  • rollshop says:

    damn sam, you pick em and they get beaten almost every time. kind of like the madden cover curse. oh well.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    to all of you questioning my Faber prediction AFTER the fact, realize that I’m not one to play it safe and if given the choice between offering predictions and not offering predictions, I am always going to keep things interesting by letting everyone know how I see it. If you can’t respect that, maybe this site isn’t for you. And to those who want to continue to question my credibility, kindly direct yourself to the most recent head-to-head predictions article on CBSSports.com where I am documented as picking 69% winners when it comes to major MMA events. I find it hypocritical that those bringing up credibility issues are the ones who only voice their opinions about predictions after the fight has transpired. Have some courage and speak out before the fight takes place. Anyone can be 100% correct after the fact. Championing non-documented predictions takes no guts.

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  • Patrick says:

    Rawr. Also, I picked Pulver, Faber, Dias, and Maeda to win… so I think for the most part people probly bombed on this card on their picks (I was pretty secure in my belief that those 4 would win… got proven wrong, meh).

    It was a rough card for picks, but I’m sure some people made some money off Faber losing.

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  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    Sam, don’t worry about them.

    These jagoffs don’t realize it’s called an UPSET for a reason. Smart money was on Faber, for sure, but Brown proved again that anything can happen in the cage.

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  • Stan the Caddy says:

    I made my picks at DCSC.com, including a wager on Mike Brown. Does this allow me to throw out the obligatory lawls???

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  • Blue says:

    Reminds me of the time you picked the Iceman via domination.

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  • Blue says:

    Sam, it isn’t hard to pick winners. 69% correct means very little without a comparison with other predictors or your record including betting lines/odds. I feel safe in saying that you can get > 50% by knowing nothing and merely picking favourites to win in MMA.

    Editor’s Note: This is another example of a reckless post that isn’t rooted in fact. This isn’t the NFL or NBA — what do betting lines have to do with head-to-head fighting? Not to mention, my picks are for entertainment purposes only, thus making odds and betting lines irrelevant.

    And if you had taken the time to actually go to CBSSports.com, you would see in fact that the picks are matched up with four other predictors. And we’re not talking about 50% — we’re talking about 69%. That’s a 19% difference — thanks for trying to minimize that.

    Merely picking favorites? What does being a favorite get you in a sport such as MMA? Upsets happen routinely. How long have you followed the sport? Furthermore, when I submit predictions to CBS’ head-to-head previews, I have to predict the ENTIRE card regardless of whether there is an obvious favorite or not.

    My claims were made in response to those questioning the quality of my picks and prior to the most recent UFC event, I was picking at 69%. That is a strong number and your weak logic expressed to discredit that documented figure just doesn’t hold weight. Thanks for playing.

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  • Medium Seen says:

    I don’t know what to call in any weight class below 155, because the talent pool is so bunk. If Faber was truly the man he wouldn’t have gone 5 rounds with Pulver who’s hayday passed about 4 years ago. And yeah, he never lost at 145 before Faber, but who really cares? 145,135,110, I’m not convinced these are spectacular classes capable of entertaining fans with blow for blow bouts too often. More often it’s washed up schmos who couldn’t hack it at 155, and step down 10 pounds to try to man handle the talent already entrenched at 145, which never happens. And 69% is pretty good, especially when you have to call the entire card, which often has little known people on the under cards.

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  • Patrick says:

    Medium Seen… ever watched a Miguel Torres fight?

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