Not only did Urijah Faber pick up a big win on Saturday over Brian Bowles on UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson, he actually got folks excited to see a rematch with bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Faber knew going into this fight that he'd likely be getting a title shot if he walked away from San Jose victorious, but he did much more than that. A lot of times, when a fighter knows he can get a title shot if he wins his next fight, he'll fight safe. Faber certainly has the wrestling tools to give Bowles fits and win the fight that way.
But that thought didn't even seem to cross his mind.
Though Faber finished the fight with an impressive guillotine choke at into 1:27 into the second round, it was his striking and gameplan that stole the show. Faber was thoroughly and soundly beaten in his last fight against Cruz, though he did win the first one in 2007 via guillotine. Cruz grew a lot since that point, and when they met earlier this year on July 2, Cruz danced around him and won easily on points. Faber has always had passable standup, but he has had troubles throwing with power and committing to his strikes.
He landed a lot against Cruz - but couldn't follow up with something else and failed to pack enough heat with the initial strike. But on Saturday, Faber really let loose against Bowles. Not only did he tee off and follow through on his punches, but he planted his feet and put a lot of power behind them. He cut off the cage when Bowles circled or retreated, trying to go with a more technical approach. Faber threw him off that approach and landed multiple times with shots that clearly would have eventually put Bowles down if not for the submission.
The most important thing Faber did was make a fight with Cruz interesting. This might just be one writer's opinion, but Cruz has this weird way of being completely unimpressive while baffling other fighters. It's not a matter of him not delivering huge knockouts or finishes in general, he just moves a whole bunch, and Faber did not fight a sound fight when they last met. It is now a much more interesting affair, providing the California Kid can keep it up.