by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Few fighters have had as successful first two years fighting as “The California Kid” Urijah Faber has. Over the course of 11 fights Faber has gone 10-1 and has captured both the Gladiator Challenge and King of the Cage 145lb titles. There have been few expectations that Faber has not exceeded and done so in exciting fashion.
Most recently Faber stepped up to face possibly the biggest competition, literally and figuratively, of his young career when he matched up with Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett at Gladiator Challenge 46 this past weekend. Faber, a member of the Capital City Fighting Alliance, dominated the Pride Bushido veteran and walked away with a KO victory after choking Bennett unconscience before the end of the first round.
After the fight Faber spoke to MMA Weekly to talk about the win and what the future holds for one of the most promising young fighters in the sport.
“It was basically pretty one-sided,” said Faber of his win over Bennett. “First off Krazy Horse came up and smelled my armpits in the face-off which was kind of weird [laughs], but it set the tone for the match. I came with a kick to the thigh right off the bat and was just throwing some feinting jabs out, as we came closer he came in as he does with his right hand cocked for the big punch. I just threw a jab and took him down pretty easily. We scrambled around a little bit and I ended up getting the mount, dropped a couple of pretty big elbows on him and he squirmed out.”
Faber continued, “He’s pretty strong, he’s scrappy, hard to hold onto, he relaxes then explodes so it’s kind of like you don’t need to use all your power the whole time and he catches you off guard with that.
We reversed position a couple of times and always ended up with me coming out. One time he came out so I picked him up and slammed him and got the mount again. He smiled at me so I dropped four huge elbows on his face, he turned over and I choked him out at 4:30. It was an exciting match because there was a lot of squirming around but I didn’t take any abuse at all aside from the bruised elbows. I got the easy choke with 30 seconds left in the first round.”
Prior to the fight there had been quite a build-up leading into the match. Bennett had said that Faber looked like a model and thus possibly too good to be a fighter. Faber shot back by saying that he was coming after Bennett’s trademark gold teeth.
With all the expectations on his shoulders Faber still managed give a performance he is happy with. “I feel good, I don’t feel like I was in any threat of losing that fight. Had circumstances been different I would have stood up and thrown some punches with him, but I was closing out my contract with KOTC/Gladiator Challenge and you never know who they’re looking to win and stuff. So I was a little cautious, but it feels good that I felt I was going to be able to dominate the fight and I did.”
As per those gold teeth Faber was gunning for, “You know he was taunting me when I was on top in the full mount, he was showing all of them, I came with some heavy elbows but those teeth were in there pretty good [laughs].”
Now that his contract is done Faber becomes one of the hottest free agents around at any weight class. While he’s not ready to make a decision on exactly where he’s going to go, Faber has some ideas of where he’d like to be and who he’d like to face in the future.
“As far as being a free agent goes, the biggest thing for me is getting some money,” admitted Faber. “I’ve got KOTC talking to me about what they have planned for me as far as money goes. I’ve talked to TKO in Canada, they’ve made some offers, and I’m always looking to go to Japan so hopefully that’ll be in the works, Krazy Horse has a decent name over there.
WEC has some good fighters and I’d kind to like to tour around and fight the best guys and see what happens. I haven’t really had a chance to make a decision and I don’t think I’m going to right now as far as were I’m going, but I’m definitely going to be really active in 2006. I want to travel and face the toughest guys.”
Urijah continued, “I’d like to fight Pequeno Nogueira, Kid Yamamoto, or maybe a big fight at the ARCO (Arena in Sacramento) or somewhere that’s off the reservation in California. Maybe we can have a showdown with Gilbert Melendez who’s ranked pretty high in my weightclass. I’ve also thought about going up to 155lbs, it’s been running through my head to take some time and consciencely make the effort to bulk up, put on 10-12lbs and compete at 155lbs. I have a lot of options out there and I’m not going to commit to anything just yet, but it’s looking pretty good for me.”
Faber understands that not only does a fighter need skills inside the ring, but just as import are the intangibles he can bring to the table are as well. “I definitely think that aside from my fights being really exciting, I have other things to offer them. I’m pretty well-spoken and marketable, I think I’m one of the more interesting fighters out there and that’s definitely a plus for me in negotiations.
I’ve been getting a lot of press and I feel like I should. I work hard and attack fighting like a job; I really put my mind to it. So I think there’s going to be a big demand for me in 2006, and like I said I have a lot of options out there so I’m looking forward to making some cash so I can live comfortably and do what I love to do.”
With the kind of year that Faber has had, it would be hard to believe that an organization looking for an infusion of young, exciting talent wouldn’t bring him in. As Urijah admits, while the year had its speed bump, ultimately it was a very good year and something to build on heading into the New Year.
“I feel like I’ve had a pretty good year,” commented Urijah. “Aside from my one loss that was still a pretty good fight, of course it was tainted with the 8-second injury to my head, but I’m definitely looking forward to another good year. I feel like my whole career has been pretty positive so far, I look to continue to make a name for myself and establish myself as one of the best fighters in the world regardless of weight. That’s another reason why I want to step up to 155lbs and take on some bigger name guys, the best fighters are able to do that and I feel like I’m one of the best fighters out there.”
That one loss, the only of Urijah’s career, was to fellow up and comer Tyson Griffen at September’s Gladiator Challenge 42 show. It’s a fight that Faber feels, while good and well earned by Griffen, is something he’d like to avenge, even if Griffen doesn’t seem too keen on allowing him to do so.
“That’s one issue I do want to address,” said Faber. “As far as not wanting to take anything away from Tyson, he fought a good fight, but if he is not acknowledging that I hit my head in the first eight seconds and split it open and that wasn’t a factor then he’s lying to himself and to everyone else. I’ve heard that he said he doesn’t want to fight me again and I think that would be unfair on the side of I think I deserve a rematch with him. Hopefully he gives me another chance. You know this last weekend when he weighed in to fight at 145lbs he weighed in at 155lbs and the guy still fought him. I don’t know how low he’ll go down in weight but I’ll go up in weight, I don’t care, I definitely want to fight him again.”
Urijah finished out the conversation by wanting to thank those who have contributed to his successes and to give the fans a message regarding his future. “I’d like to thank Nogi Industries, they provide me with my shorts and gear for grappling and wearing around. Check them out at nogiindustries.com and Skin Industries have also been good sponsors for me. All the guys at Capital City Fighting Alliance, Dave Marinoble, Cassio Werneck, UC Davis wrestling, and MMA Weekly for giving me the coverage and keeping me in the works. King of the Cage and Gladiator Challenge for giving me the opportunities they’ve given me over the last few years, I’d like to thank them for that. Fans make sure you don’t blink, I’m going to be putting on the best fights in the world this upcoming year. Keep your eyes open and be ready for big things from The California Kid.”