In what has been deemed a “superfight,” because the two men are ranked in different weight classes and neither will be risking the loss of a title, highly-ranked Featherweight Frankie Edgar will fight #4 Bantamweight Urijah Faber at UFC Fight Night Manila on May 16th. In July, 2014, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto ranked the pairing his #3 fantasy superfight, explaining that “[t]he pre-fight barbs would be as cordial as it gets, but the skill level in the cage would be off the charts.” Granted, he was even more excited about a fight between Anthony Johnson and Alistair Overeem. He also paired Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone as #1, presumably because McGregor’s supreme hype demanded he be matched with someone. Errrr.
But how much God’s-honest super really resides is this superfight? In 2010, Faber moved to Bantamweight after his loss to José Aldo. And after his move to the UFC in March 2011, he won eight of eleven fights. Unfortunately, two of his losses came at the hand of Renan Barão, twice denying his hope for the Bantamweight title. The last loss to Renan was especially troubling, as he fell to punches in the first round.
Frankie has been a Featherweight since August 2012, after suffering back to back title-fight losses against Benson Henderson at Lightweight. And in his Featherweight debut, another title fight, he lost a unanimous decision to current lightweight champion José Aldo. Thereafter, he won three fights, his most recent a Performance of the Night neck crank victory over Cub Swanson in November. Depending on your perspective, Frankie is either the number one contender in the division now, or slightly outranked by Chad Mendez, who lost to Aldo in October.
Faber’s superhuman air in the WEC was polluted after his lost to Mike Brown in 2008, beginning a fifty percent win ration over the course of ten fights, a far cry from his previously nearly pristine record. It was a shame, because the California Kid was an exciting household name, probably the biggest reason the WEC seemed like an exciting second-tier organization (aside from the old version of Britney Palmer). But it’s difficult to forget his struggles, and he seems to be inching more towards being a active respected veteran now than a fellow who truly has a chance to win and retain a UFC title. And so, his draw as a fighter these days is at least questionable. Moreover, Frankie doesn’t probably solve the deficiency in the buy-rate equation.
The event will be the first ever hosted by the UFC in the Philippines, and the first in Southeast Asia in 2015. And while the country has been gifted a fun fight, if we are honest, they probably deserve better. Frankie v. Faber isn’t Silva vs. GSP, for instance, and there is no word of a more meaningful fight headlining the card. In the final analysis, the fight is no doubt nice, but it just isn’t all that super.