Urijah Faber fights Brad Pickett at UFC on Fox 22 on December 17, and then will retire. During a recent appearance on Submission Radio he conceded that it isn’t exactly how he wanted to go out.
“Well to be honest, I would have liked to beat Dominick Cruz in the last fight, win the title, maybe do one defense in my hometown of Sacramento, and go out with the belt,” he said. “But this is not fairy tale land, this is the real world and you can’t control everything. So, you know, that would have been the perfect scenario, but it didn’t happen.
“I think having Paige VanZant headline the show in our hometown where our gym and our team is, kind of like a passing of torch, to have two of my top guys, with Josh Emmett and ‘Alex’ Sandoval on the card and then Cody Garbrandt fighting for a world championship two weeks later, it’s all just a perfect scenario. So couldn’t have planned it like this, but it is what it is.”
“I haven’t given too much thought about retirement. I’m more of like a living-in-the-moment kind of guy. But I feel like the time is right. I know that it’s something that I love to do, but it hasn’t been evoking the same type of emotion as it has in the past. The ups and downs and everything involved is just a little bit different.
“I still feel real fortunate to be able to work out every day and make a living doing the things that I love. But in all honesty, if I didn’t set a time and say, okay, this is gonna be it, I would’ve just kept on fighting and kept on fighting. Because it doesn’t scare me, it’s a nice way to make a buck, I enjoy the process. But I feel fortunate to have my wits about me. I feel fortunate to have my body functioning and feel like I’m in good health, and I just feel like it’s time to be able to focus on some other things and end on a good note.”
“I know it’s going to be a mystery to how the emotions are on that night, whether it’s going to be a breath of relief or, you know, emotional saying goodbye or what’s gonna happen. So I’m just gonna go with the moment. That’s kind of how I live my life anyways and just go out thankful and hopefully have a performance of my lifetime.”
“I’ve never asked for anyone really specifically in a fight, unless it’s to challenge for the title or to pick a fight for a reason that it’s gonna be a good business decision. But I’m happy it’s Brad. I have a lot of respect for Brad, I love that way he fights. He comes with danger and he comes with intent to kill and there’s no way it’s gonna be a boring fight with a guy like that.
“And I have to be on my A-game to make it happen, because he’s got wins over guys like Demetrious Johnson and he’s been a top guy for a lot of years. So I’m excited for a challenge. I’m excited for a guy that I respect a lot, and I feel like he’s kind of an iconic guy for the UK as well. He’s been one of those soldiers, especially at the light weights, that has helped put MMA on the map, and so it seems kind of fitting.”
Faber was asked if he feels fulfilled with his career.
“I do,” he said. “I mean, of course there’s always things that you wish you could get a second chance at, or specific fights, or having the UFC title would have been nice. Of course, they didn’t bring my weight class into the UFC until I was nearly 32 years old and I had quite a few shots, including like some short-notice fights where guys have been injured and I jumped in because I’d been prepped and ready. But I don’t really have any regrets.
“I feel like as soon as we start regretting or thinking about what could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, that’s just a bad place to be. I’m always forward-thinking and I’m happy to have been a pioneer in this sport. I’m happy to be a guy that’s been a world champion in this sport, a top contender in this sport, a fan favorite in this sport, somebody that’s built something bigger than myself, with creating a team. And I’m pretty happy with all that. And who knows what’s going to happen in the future.”
Given his success in business and his ability to build teams, Urijah Faber is a natural to lead a fighter’s association. He was asked if he planned to join the MMAAA.
“Honestly, nobody’s talked to me about it,” he said. “If you got a glimpse inside my day, it’s a hectic time between training and the team and working on this new gym and everything else. I haven’t had time to sit and research and look at all the union stuff happening. I know that there’s three different unions that are happening. One that’s led by a guy named Jeff . There’s one with Cung Le and Couture. And there’s one with CAA and Bjorn Rebney kind of behind it. And I haven’t taken a look at any of those because I’ve been focused on my time and effort. So that would be news to me if our team was involved in anything. But I’m all ears to hear what’s going on in the landscape when I have time to sit down and breathe and take a look under the covers. But I just haven’t had that time.”
Faber was asked about post-career benefits, one of the things that MMAAA supporter Donald Cerrone has been most vocal about.
“I mean, that’d be great,” he said. “I don’t know what that looks like or how realistic it is. I feel like there are other sports that have some things set in stone and I’d be all for that. I’m curious how the new ownership is gonna approach taking care of the generations past and everything else. But again, I have to take a look at things and see, okay, is this something that is gonna happen, is this not gonna happen? Like, where do I focus my time and energy? For me, I don’t wanna focus on
“For me, I don’t wanna focus on spilt milk, I need to be forward-thinking and find out my next source of revenue and what I’m gonna put my time into. I’d like to work with the UFC and everyone else to make sure that our sport keeps progressing. And I don’t know if that comes with the union or it comes to sit down with the brasses at William Morris Endeavour or whatever, but I’m all ears and will lend a hand however I can.”
Faber went 1-2 with Dominick Cruz, the #3 pound for pound fighter in the UFC. The pair spent years chewing each other out, and putting asses in seats.
“I enjoyed the whole process,” said Faber. “As you’ve seen me on The Ultimate Fighter with Cruz and with Conor and just in general, you can’t really get under my skin. So I’ve enjoyed the whole process, from the banter back and forth, to the fights, before, during and after. I really enjoyed it and I actually feel like Cruz has grown up a lot. He was an immature little punk when I first met him and now he’s just an irritating champion (laughs). But he’s grown up a lot and so I have respect for him and what he’s accomplished as well. And I hope he doesn’t take it too hard when Cody comes in and thumps him. Hopefully he can keep his head high.”
Cruz fights Team Alpha Male standout Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 on December 30.
“The most dangerous part about Cruz is he’s able to frustrate guys,” said Faber. “And what I’ve seen from Cody, unlike guys like TJ Dillashaw – I’ve seen TJ from the very beginning of his career, up until him being in the gym as a champion and preparing to defend the title, and TJ is the worst when he’s frustrated, Cody Garbrandt is better when he’s frustrated. He’s got a boxing pedigree and a wrestling pedigree that is unmatched within our sport. I mean, he’s a guy that’s had a lot of success as a kid as a wrestler, as a high school wrestler, and then just transferred right into Mixed Martial Arts. And he’s been boxing since he was a little kid. So the frustration that happens when you fight a guy like Cruz, it makes some guys worse and makes some guys better. And for Cody, it’s going to make him better and it’s going to be a bad night for Cruz.”
The last question for every fighter when he retires is, could you come back?
“You never know,” said Faber. “I have a real hard time turning down a good time. And for me, that’s what fighting is. And the margins on fighting are awesome compared to most business. Meaning, the overhead of a clothing company or a health bar or anything like that, doesn’t rival the fight game. I feel like it makes sense for me to do what I’m doing. I have a lot of things I want to focus on, a lot of passions in this world, and can someone coax me into coming out of retirement by picking a fight? I mean, I would never rule that out. But in my mind, this is going to be it.”