Urijah Faber Looks To Claim UFC Gold and Stay on Top
Congrats on the big win… How was that weight cut for you coming from Featherweight down to Bantamweight?
It wasn't too bad. I was real cautious since I haven’t done it in so long, but this was my competition weight all through college. I knew that my body could get back down there, and I was being really strict and really cautious with how I did it. I have never really done it with a 24 hour weigh in. I had to really down size my body a lot more, and compete an hour after weigh in. This was a lot easier actually.
Were you surprised to get the submission win by rear naked choke late in the first round?
No, not really that was my goal, and I felt like I would be able to do that. I really feel like I am going to be on a different level here at this weight. I was only about two and a half to three pounds off of what I competed against Aldo in the cage, and I have only lost to three people my entire career, and I have twenty fights. It’s easy to talk about the recent fights when I lost to Brown and broke my hand, or lost to Aldo , and he dismantled my leg. I know that I am still one of the elite fighters of the world, and now I have every advantage to win, so I figured that I would be able to win that fight pretty indecisively.
There was a lot of crazy talk that maybe after the Aldo fight you should retire. Have you peaked as a fighter, or are you maturing now?... Where are you right now in your fight career?
I just think that I am getting better. If you look at the top guys in the other weights, Anderson Silva, GSP, Lesnar, and all these guys that are the champions and contenders, they are a lot older than I am, and people don’t understand that when I started this sport, there were no fights on TV, there were no 155, 145 or 135 lb fighters in the UFC. I was already up in weight class fighting at 145, and never had an opportunity to fight at 135, so I think I am just getting better. You can only get better when you are starting something new and it’s a sport where you can constantly learn, and I’ve been learning this whole time and getting better and more comfortable . I think you are going to see the best years of Urijah Faber in the future for sure.
Talking about your three losses, I have often heard that there was still bad blood between Tyson Griffin and you, from him beating you in Gladiator Challenge years ago. Is there any truth to the bad blood between the two of you? I heard that he was kind of a hard guy to be around, and that he kind of rubs people the wrong way.
I think it was more of things leading up to that, and also, we are both from small towns and had big names. It was more of our fans that were at each others throats. I don’t think he and I are buddies by any means, but it’s not bad blood necessarily. I don’t know about how he rubs other people. There was a thing where I actually wanted to see him make weight, and we got lost and showed up four minutes after we were supposed to. He had already weighed in and I weighed in after that, so I never got to see him make weight. He thought I did that on purpose, and our fans were all pissed off at each other. There was also controversy, because it was before California had legalized MMA, and I slammed my head into the steel cage eight seconds after the fight started and ended up getting seven staples after the fight. , I ended up getting a pretty big injury, which probably would have been called if it was regulated at that time. There were all sorts of little things, where basically we were getting on each others nerves. The bottom line, do we like each other? No, not necessarily, but is it like some sort of beef, no. We have been in the same gym plenty of times, and said whats up plenty of times as well.
You talk a little bit from being from small towns. Is it harder to live up to your own personal expectations, or your fans and people that have known you your entire life’s expectations?
I’d say not my own by any means, because I don’t really have expectations, like that. I have a general sense of who I am. When it comes to winning and losing, the hardest part is the people that care about you. When you are in there and able to give your full effort, it kind of negates what actually happened. If I go in there and fight my heart out, and I don’t win, its not difficult for me. I tried my hardest, did my best and whatever happens, happens. There is still things like dealing with all these people that care about you, because they are emotionally invested. They don’t get the release of trying to fight. That is definitely something that you think about.
I have heard people say a lot, “How come Urijah never fought in UFC as a lightweight?” Why have you never jumped up into the 155 weight class, as a featherweight or bantam weight? Was it the walk around weight?
I did have an opportunity to fight Mike Hominick, the UFC actually had an offer for it, and I was under contract with King of the Cage, and they wouldn’t let me out, which was part of the demise of our relationship. At that time, I had to wait that contract out. I think they knew that Hominick was a smaller guy also, Its one of those things where that was one opportunity, and I wasn’t allowed to do it contractually at that point. On top of that, when it was re-addressed, the UFC still didn’t have a featherweight division, and the WFA did. I signed with them, but they went out of business. They were going to start me at featherweight, not lightweight, and were offering to pay me three to four times what the UFC offered, so I went with that. It was better money, and a better weight class. So, that was that, then it got liquidated. Zuffa and UFC bought my contract from WFA and the WEC just kinda took over from that point.
With UFC purchasing the WEC, you have been the poster boy, your name is synonomous with WEC, that is your organization. Was there any skepticism when that merger happened, were you excited that you are now a UFC fighter? What was going through your head?
I have wanted this for a long time, just because we have been fighting the best guys on the planet at the weight, but to the fan that doesn’t know any different, UFC is what people consider the best in MMA, regardless if it’s the same company, or they are the parent company. It's just nice to get that recognition, and be playing on that same level monetarily, and have that different budget. The opportunities are just going to be better, it’s going to be good.
You had mentioned that you would like to coach The Ultimate Fighter, I know Dominic Cruz openly said that he would like to coach against you on The Ultimate Fighter. What are your thoughts on that? Is coaching against Dominic Cruz something that interests you?
For sure. First off, I think that would be a great experience. That show is what has made Mixed Martial Arts what it is today, kind of educating people has been a big part of it. More than that, I think that it would be a lot of fun. It would be cool to get my team of guys, Team AlphaMale in there, and be able to mentor some guys, and get a lot of great exposure and build up a great fight. Whether that be against Dominic Cruz or Miguel Torres, or Scotty Jorgenson, whoever it may be, I think I am the guy to be on that show, and that it would be an awesome opportunity.
Why the scale down to Bantamweight? Why not go back and challenge Aldo again? Are you concerned with the possibility of eventually getting a phone call from Joe Silva saying “We want you and Benavidez to fight each other?”
No, I’m not concerned. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. We’ve made it pretty clear that we don’t want to fight. I’ve got Chad at 145 too. I’ve got other guys that are up and coming, and have a bunch of people in my weight class. My team is great, and we’ve got guys that are high level, and in the same weight class. I’m not really worried about it, we’re fighting against the whole world, and there are all sorts of people to be fighting against. I made the drop, because I wanted to be the most competitive I could be, rather than fighting up a weight, and giving up weight and size advantage for my entire career. It was time to give myself every advantage to win. Aldo took my leg apart pretty good, and won decisive victory, but I have always wanted to go down to 35, and be where I am the most competitive.
Who, right now fighter wise, with Team AlphaMale is on the cusp of exploding?
I have a couple different guys, one is definitely TJ Dillishaw, he is already competitive with Joseph, Chad and I at a bantamweight. He is learning so fast and was a huge part of our training camp this past year. Mike Apers is another guy that just started, but has a lot of potential at that weight. There is also Mike Ortega, who is a boxer first, and he has learned the rest of the game, is catching on really well, and is a fighter at heart. But, the main guy that is on the cusp, and really could be a UFC champ really fast, and could get right in, and make a huge splash is Dustin Akbari. He has been one of my main training partner since he was fifteen or sixteen years old. He just won the World Championships in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu in No Gi a couple weeks ago at 160. He took second a few times, and now took the championships. He is good at everything. He is a guy that has been in my corner since that first fight against Tyson Griffin. That’s a guy to look out for. Him, Dillishaw and Ortega.
Talk a little bit about some of your projects. What are you working on right now?
EatlikeAChamp.com, and that’s basically educating people on nutrition, and offering diet plans, education and good knowledge, that’s one thing I am working on. I have FORMAthletics.com, which is really taking off. It has only been ten months, and we have just been purchased by K-Swiss, we have Anthony Pettis, Scott Jorgenson, Eric Koch, Mark Munoz and Chad and Joseph all representing the brand, and we’re signing more and more guys. We’ve got both the gyms and the management company, all sorts of stuff going on here. I have a brand called Optica Fantasia that we’ll be doing some photography art with MMA fighters, we’re just doing a whole lot of things right now. We’re doing a getaway retreat, kind of like Big Bear, but here in Northern California, on the Coast that I’ve been working on lately for Point Arena. I’ve been staying busy, having fun and building this program.
How difficult is it for you to have all these things going? Isn’t there Faberville going right now in your neighborhood where you and a lot of your fighters live. You have a lot going on right now. Do you ever feel like you are kind of being pulled in different directions a lot, and its hard to stay focused?
No, not really. Its funny because you talk about our block, but that’s something that has been building for the past five years, its not something that just all of a sudden happened. Its just being talked about more by people. If you know me, when I was in Elementary School I was acting and playing Sports, and split between two parents, and sharing time there. Then I went on to High School, and was a scholar athlete, had a girlfriend and a social life. I went on to College and put myself through school, wrestling at Division 1, and had a social life there as well. I stay busy, I don’t think of it like anything is changing, its actually getting easier because I have more resources and people helping me out. I have a lot of ideas, and I am good at working and putting people in charge of things that they are good at. Staying busy is not like work for me, I feel like I am on vacation all the time.
Inside MMA did a piece on you. You put a challenge on there that you would like some heavier guys for Team AlphaMale. Are you really looking for some heavier guys to step up and join your team right now?
There is a good core of guys here. Obviously, we have a ton of the lighter fighters, but we have some welterweights and some middleweights, we want to keep looking for talented guys who can work as hard as the little guys, and learn like the little guys, but can take advantage of our structure. If there are some guys out there that would like to take advantage of it, have them get in touch with me.
Are there any sponsors out there that you would like to thank?
I would of course like to thank AMP Energy, as they are always behind me. FORM Athletics, my clothing line. You can check out our websites UrijahFaber.com, TeamAlphaMale.com, EatLikeAChamp.com, my gym, UltimateFitness.Pro, and my Twitter at Urijah Faber. I’m always doing fun updates, and that’s about it. Thank you to my management, MMA Inc, the best management in the business. They do a great job, and I owe a lot of it to them,
Last question, how does Urijah “California Kid” Faber, UFC Bantam Weight Champion sound?
I love it man…