“The California Kid” Urijah Faber is no stranger to the MMA spotlight. Over his 10-year career in fighting, Faber has become one of the most recognizable and accomplished fighters in the sport’s lower weight classes.
Having competed at 155, 145 and 135 pounds in his career, the Sacramento, Calif., native has endeared himself to throngs of loyal supporters by being notoriously accessible for autographs or a quick picture, and having a fan-friendly style.
Over the past decade, Faber has competed in 10 UFC/Zuffa title bouts and despite going just 5-5 in those scraps, he’s shown that win or lose, fans want to see The California Kid in action.
With his accessible nature and exciting style, the former UC-Davis standout has learned that sometimes in the fight game you are going to be paired with people you actually like, or perhaps, even consider a friend. His next fight looming, the 33-year-old will now find himself across the cage from former training partner and pupil Scott Jorgensen at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale on Saturday in Las Vegas.
The two first met at a Reno Tournament of Champions back in the mid-2000s. Jorgensen, a fresh-faced, soon-to-be college graduate, was just a fan at the time, and approached a known, but still blossoming Faber for a quick chat. After a brief conversation, Faber had planted the seed in Jorgensen’s head that he should be a fighter, telling him, “You should try it. You’ll love it. You’ll make some money.”
Fast-forward a couple of months and Jorgensen was in Sacramento spending time with Faber and his teammates at Team Alpha Male. During his time training with the Alpha Males, the lighter weights began getting more promotion in the major organizations, and Jorgensen – with the influx of lighter weight fighters amongst the team – decided it best to find his own camp to further his booming career.
Now, this Saturday, Faber finds himself squaring off with a man he once helped train; a man whose career he is partially responsible for. But for Faber, this isn’t anything new. This is the fight game, and despite training with Jorgensen before, that means little come fight time.
“We actually fought in practice, but it’s been few and far between over the years,” said Faber during a recent press junket. “When he first started, he came down to train and I went out to train with him at (Mark) Munoz’s gym.
“I’ve trained with all of his trainers. He’s trained with all of my trainers. This is gonna be a fight, though. A fight is so much different than any sort of practice.”
When asked if he would be using any knowledge he gained during training with Jorgensen, Faber is quick to dismiss such talk and emphatically points out that MMA is constantly changing, as are the fighters.
“We’ve evolved in different ways,” he said.
“There’s big differences that have happened over the years. It’s going to be a different fight. I do this every fight. I fought Ivan Menjivar back in 2006 and I didn’t take anything into account when we just fought. I trained with Brian Bowles before – he was a friend of mine – and I didn’t take any of the training we had done into account (when we fought).”
All friendly relationships aside, this is still just another day at the office for the MMA legend.
“Bottom line: this is a fight. It’s the same thing it would have been if we would have fought in the backyard, if we met in the street, or whatever. It’s two guys trying to impose their will and that’s how I’m approaching this.”
With a stable of great sub-155ers at Team Alpha Male, and with a main event slot featured on a major televised card on the line, even if Faber was reluctant to fight his old friend, it’s not like he could decline.
“There’s only a certain amount of saying who you will or will not fight in our sport, and I have a team also,” said the 33-year-old.
“We’re friends, we have the same management, but we aren’t on the same team. So there’s that time, there’s a bridge to cross, where you have to understand – we both know we’re two of the top fighters in the world. You can’t say ‘no’ forever.”
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