For years, Urijah Faber has been one of the leading faces of MMA’s lighter weight classes. There’s no doubt that Faber’s popularity had at least some amount to do with the rise of mixed martial arts’ little guys.
As the lighter divisions have grown in popularity, so has Team Alpha Male, the team for which Faber fights. MMA’s limelight has shined on the Northern Californian team, especially in the most recent years, giving way for names like Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez to garner notoriety beyond the appreciation of the hardcore fan.
Add on names like The Ultimate Fighter standouts T.J. Dillashaw and Chris Holdsworth, and the gym sounds like it can get pretty crowded, giving the impression that one-on-one time with coaches is hard to come by. But that’s not so, Faber said, and the structure within one of the sport’s top teams gives everyone training there the chance to get everything they need ahead of fight night.
“It hasn’t been that difficult,” Faber told MMAWeekly.com, when asked if it’s difficult to manage the needs of all the fighters on his team. “We have a lot of coaches on staff. We have multiple guys do jiu-jitsu, [and] multiple guys for striking. Duane [Ludwig] has come in as a head coach to kind of conduct things, and he’s a hard worker, so he makes time for everyone. But we have structured classes that everyone can jump into. For example, Master Thong does a lot of mitt work for me. We have quite a few resources to go to for our guys. I think it’s all positive.
“Everyone’s kind of working towards the same goal. It’s nice to have that focus all at one time.”
As he enters his UFC on Fox 9 fight with 22-year-old up-and-comer Michael McDonald, the 34-year-old Faber is considered the grizzled veteran – minus the gray hairs, of course. His professional MMA debut came more than 10 years ago, which, given the arduous career path that MMA can map out, would leave many assuming that Faber is in the twilight of his career.
According to the fighter, however, you shouldn’t think he’s fallen off, not even for a moment. Faber said that while fighters ages 29 and 30 talk about how old they feel, the contrarian in him feels the opposite way. “The California Kid” said his growth hasn’t reached its ceiling yet. And while he doesn’t necessarily plan on being a Randy Couture-esque fighter, Father Time isn’t due to knock on Faber’s door to say time’s up.
“I feel young, man,” he said. “I look at some of my peers in my sport and some of the guys I looked up to and just see what they accomplished from my age until what they do now. I don’t necessarily want to be a guy that’s fighting into my 40s, but I feel so good. My skill level is definitely getting better. I’ve been a guy who’s really been about health and healthy living, so I feel 120 percent.”