Faber and Rivera want to square off again, and they have an event in mind. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
The result of last Saturday’s UFC 181 clash between Urijah Faber and Francisco Rivera was not particularly satisfying to either party involved.
While Faber emerged with a second-round submission at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, his triumph was marred by an accidental eye poke that occurred immediately prior. Rivera was left virtually defenseless after the foul, which went unrecognized by referee Mario Yamasaki.
Many observers felt that Rivera was winning the fight up until that point. His manager, Jason House, recently revealed plans to file an appeal with the Nevada Athletic Commission in hopes of having the outcome changed to a no contest.
Even if that doesn’t happen, it appears that both bantamweights are open to a rematch. As a matter of fact, Faber already has a concrete date in mind.
“I think we’re both low in weight, maybe we do it Jan. 3 [at UFC 182],” Faber said during an appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show show Wednesday. “I’d be down to jump in there again, get another fight in, another payday and have a good fight. The thing with that is you only get so many fights, so if they want to set that up we can do it -- like sooner rather than later.”
Rivera, who later appeared on Wednesday’s show, seemed to like Faber’s thinking -- provided there is no lasting injury to his eye.
“Yeah, definitely,” Rivera said. [I just have to] make sure my eye looks good and everything looks good, and I’m definitely looking to get back in there with him.”
Rivera says he was thinking rematch almost immediately after tapping to Faber’s bulldog choke. He went so far as to ask UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby for a return date with “The California Kid” at UFC 184 on Feb. 28.
“After the fight I talked to Sean, and he was excited that my performance was going great. He was just upset about how it turned out,” Rivera said. “He said there’s nothing he can do as far as the commission and ref. I asked him for a rematch and he said it’s tough. He couldn’t just book us right away; all the cards are already filled up....The first thing I said was let me fight him again in L.A. in February, and he was like, ‘That card’s already done.’”
UFC 182, however, currently only has 10 bouts listed on UFC.com. That would appear to leave an opening for another bout if everything were to fall into place.
“I would love to do the fight again,” Faber said. “The sooner the better. My weight’s down.”
The Team Alpha Male leader is aware of the perception that he was losing the fight before the eye poke. Faber points to the close nature of the striking statistics -- Rivera held a slight 13-to-11 edge in significant strikes in round one, according to FightMetric.com -- as evidence that it was far from a foregone conclusion that the Tachi Palace veteran was on his way to victory.
“If you watch the fight, it was just barely developing. I don’t feel like he really caught me with much, maybe one punch. He threw like a right kick and a right punch that landed,” Faber said. “Everything else, there wasn’t much that happened other than just kind of being in each other’s face. I landed some good left hooks and a couple lunging rights...I don’t feel like I was by any means losing the fight.”
Rivera acknowledges that there was plenty to be decided had the bout continued, but he also feels that the early momentum was definitely in his favor.
“I felt like heading into the second round I was performing well. I thought I was ahead. My team told me that I was doing great, that I was winning the fight [and] to keep doing what I was doing,” he said. “I was getting more confident after that first round.”
Whether that would have carried on is anyone’s guess. A rematch could remove speculation from the equation.
“Who knows what would have happened the next two rounds,” Rivera said. “Who’s to say I was gonna win? Who’s to say he was gonna win?... I’m hoping to get this cleared up and go from there.”