Polaris 10 Athlete Profile: Urijah Faber

On May 25th Nicky Ryan faces off against Urijah Faber for the Polaris no-gi featherweight title. Here we look at the fighters, the match up, keys to victory and predictions for this main event.

Urijah Faber, UFC hall of famer and ex WEC featherweight champion, retired from MMA competition just under two years ago. At 40 years old he is more than double the age of his opponent, but really is just getting started in his submission grappling career.

A brown belt under Fabio “Pateta” Prado, he is also an NCAA wrestler and currently has the record for most submissions in the UFC bantamweight division. Urijah hasn’t lost by submission since turning pro in MMA, but his sub grappling experience is pretty limited. His most recent BJJ competitions includes a match at Submission Underground 3 against Paulo Miyao, which he lost in the overtime rounds, and a feature on Quintet 3 where he dominated position but drew with Kazushi Sakuraba.

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Royler Gracie > Marcelo Clemente > Fabio Prado > Urijah Faber

Team: Alpha Male

Weight: 145lbs

Faber’s game is predominantly wrestling based, and it would be hard to see Nicky Ryan being competitive with takedowns. Most of his submission wins come via RNC, but that aside guillotines make up a large amount, as is often the case with Team Alpha Male. That’s not to say he’s ignorant of other submissions – he was committing hard to a toe hold at the end of the match with Sakuraba – but his game is clearly not as developed as Ryan’s. The biggest advantage will be physical. I expect a huge discrepancy in explosiveness and strength, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Urijah weights considerably more on the day of the fight.

Unfortunately for Faber, I expect his wrestling to be completely nullified. Nicky likes to start from seated guard, giving Faber top position where he can maximise his weight advantage, but I doubt we’ll see a takedown. The main danger for Urijah is likely from leg locks. He will have to deny Ryan dominant position, and shut down any elevation attempts by staying heavy on the legs. If Faber can impose his superior physicality, that is the best road to success. He will need to stay on top and use his strength to advance to a dominant position as he did with Sakuraba. If he’s going for a submission, guillotine is the most likely candidate – if Urijah should ever take the mount, watch out for that.

Robbie Diserens

Training MMA out of Urban Warriors Academy, because I'm still not sensible enough to avoid getting punched in the face. One day I might be a good enough writer to make a living via combat sports without getting brain damage. You can follow my fighting stuff on instagram @diserensmma, and all my articles via twitter @DiserensRobert.

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