by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
The early weeks of February look to be among the busiest in MMA history for the month. Along with Cage Rage and UFC shows, Canada will host the latest installment of the TKO series, featuring a bout between two of the best 145lb fighters in the world, Urijah “California Kid” Faber and “The Pride of El Salvador” Ivan Menjivar.
“I feel really good,” Faber told to MMA Weekly recently. “I’ve been peaking this last week and a half, kind of going short card on my training. I’m all healed up, excited, ready to put on a show for Canada and represent the USA.”
In an earlier interview MMA Weekly did with Ivan Menjivar, he mentioned on how he doesn’t like to watch tape on his opponents and likes to be surprised during the fight so he can react to what his opponent is doing. When told this, Faber seemed happy with the idea of having an open strategy going into the fight.
“I think that’s great. I watched as much tape as I could get on him, so that’s good to know,” commented Urijah. “He might just be saying that, I don’t know, but I think he’s going to be surprised. I watched his fights and he likes to push the pace and it seems like he hasn’t faced anyone that pushes it as hard as he does, which I think I will, so he’s going to be surprised and it’s going to be a great fight. I think I’m going to have the advantage in a couple of different categories so I’m ready to go.”
Both Faber and Menjivar are high output fighters, something that has Urijah very excited heading into the bout. “I love that, I’m a competitor and I love the kind of fights where I have to bring my A-game. Like I said I think it’s going to be one of the most exciting fights of the year. We’re both so high level and about even in the three disciplines that I think are important so I think it’s going to be whoever is the best man that night. It’s going to be exciting, fast paced; both of us are going to go 100% so it’s going to be awesome.”
After his fight with Menjivar, Urijah will not have a lot of time to recoup as he heads back to his native California to fight in the WEC for the first time against a fighter who a lot of people regard as highly as they do Faber.
“On March 16th I’m going to be fighting Cole Escovedo in the WEC,” said Urijah. “It’s a fight that’s been a long time in the making, we were actually going to fight in King of the Cage a year prior to this and there’s been talk of it for a long time. We’re two standouts, some of the best 145lbs fighters in California, so it’s going to be a war. I said it a couple months back, I want to start fighting the best guys out there and I think Menjivar and Cole are two of the best and I’m looking to establish myself against them more than I already am.”
Up until this point Faber has spent his entire career in the King of the Cage and Gladiator Challenge promotions and has garnished a lot of attention on the West Coast. Urijah hopes that by diversifying he’ll be able to build the kind of career that can sustain only concentrating on fighting.
“It’s going to be good for exposure, to kind of get in another crowd, and get my money situation set up for me,” explained Urijah. “Being able to go to different organizations and training all over the place with some of the best guys in the world is just a natural progression. I’m also going to be fighting in King of the Cage; I have three fights coming up with them also.”
Faber continued, “I’d like to be either in Pride or the UFC in the future. I want to keep on bringing up the purses in the lightweights and want to eventually be one of the highest paid lightweights and establish myself as one of the best fighters in the world. The only way to do that is keep on fighting and winning and that’s what I want to do this year and the next few years.”
Among those future fights is a proposed rematch with current Gladiator Challenge 145lb Champion Tyson Griffin. Tyson is the only fighter to beat Faber and the two have had quite a bit to say about the other publicly since their first match last September.
“I’ve already signed to fight in KOTC and that’s supposed to be one of the fights,” said Urijah. “He can say whatever he wants, but we’re going to fight. I don’t know what he’s trying to prove, maybe trying to get some cheap publicity in there, but does he think I’m scared to fight him? I don’t know what his deal is, but I’ve signed to fight in KOTC, for not a lot of money unfortunately, for the chance to rematch him and settle this.”
Faber closed out the conversation by thanking his supporters and by reiterating to the fans that he’s going to be one to watch in 2006. “I’d like to thank Skin Industries, NoGi Industries, Fairtex, Capital City Fighting Alliance, and MMA Weekly. To all the fans, keep your eyes peeled, I’m going to be going to TKO in Canada, WEC, and am going to have some of the most exciting fights of the year, so watch out for the California Kid.”