The last few months have not been easy on Urijah Faber.
After being selected to coach on the latest installment of The Ultimate Fighter, Faber packed up his entire team and moved them from Sacramento, Calif., to Las Vegas to help him build a team in a three-month long process for the first ever live version of the show.
The plus side was after the long arduous process was complete. Faber would finally get the chance to settle the score with long time rival Dominick Cruz and that put a huge smile on the face of “The California Kid.”
The elated feeling of the perfect situation Faber felt came to a crashing halt, however, when an injury sent the entire plan crashing into the side of a mountain.
UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz suffered a devastating knee injury and immediately after hearing the news a wave of sadness, anger and depression washed over Faber.
Faber isn’t afraid to admit that it was a tough pill to swallow when he heard that Cruz would be yanked from the title fight and he would instead face a new opponent for an interim belt instead.
“It was a couple of days of being kind of pissed off, but I figure the show must go on and don’t want to dwell on things too much,” Faber told MMAWeekly Radio.
The show did go on and just over a week later Faber had a new opponent in Brazilian phenom Renan Barão. The pair was set to face off as the co-main event in the biggest card of the year as part of UFC 148 also in Las Vegas.
Unfortunately, the wheels fell off of that plan as well when UFC 149 main event fighter Jose Aldo was forced to sit out due to injury and so the upcoming card in Calgary needed a main event. The UFC called up Faber and Barão and asked them to shift their bout to the headline slot of the upcoming show this weekend.
“It’s pretty much been the worst case scenario all the way around going into a big fight, but what are you going to do? Nothing I can really do about it. I just have to go in there and fight,” Faber said about the situation surrounding his fight with Barão.
“I never really make excuses or anything like that. If I’m going to get beat up it’s not going to be because of any other circumstances other than I let somebody beat me up, and I don’t plan on doing that.”
The easy way to look at the ordeal is to say Faber now gets to headline a card as opposed to being the co-main event under the biggest rematch in UFC history when Anderson Silva was facing off with Chael Sonnen. But there’s so much more to this story than meets the eye.
See, being a part of the biggest card of the entire year has a lot of benefits, including sponsorship money, exposure, pay-per-view revenue, not to mention fighting close to home in Las Vegas as opposed to traveling further away into Canada. Tack on the extra taxes that fighters competing abroad need to pay and Faber’s main event fight doesn’t hold the same luster as it might have by looking from the outside in.
Faber isn’t above stating that this was anything but the ideal situation for this fight, but lamenting on a bad situation will do nothing to help him face Renan Barão and that’s ultimately what matters most.
“That’s a lot more to this situation that people really don’t understand why it sucks for me. The bottom line is I’m a fighter that’s what I’m here to do. I’d love for everything to be perfect, but that’s not the way the world works and you’ve just got to roll with the punches,” said Faber.
With the focus back on Renan Barão, a stoic Urijah Faber looks at his opponent’s record with a different set of eyes that most.
Barão has amassed an impressive 18-fight winning streak en route to his 28-1 record, an accomplishment of epic proportions when looking at the records of most title contending UFC fighters, but Faber likes to dig a little deeper when admiring the Brazilian’s consecutive victories.
“You don’t want to take anything away from the guy for having a win streak like that. It’s hard to win that many in a row. Now had I fought all the guys that he fought, would I have had the same win streak? I think so,” Faber stated.
Still, Barão’s ranking and record can’t be ignored and Faber isn’t looking past him in any way, shape or form. As a matter of fact, Faber believes this fight will truly define the best bantamweight in the UFC.
To Faber, it’s not about the gold belt that gets handed out at the end of the night. It’s about who truly is the best fighter competing at 135 pounds, and Faber believes that the winner in the UFC 149 main event will have made a big stake to that claim come Saturday night.
“This is going to be the determining factor in who is the No. 1 guy. I felt like after I fought Dominick that I had done enough to win, so in my mind I’m the top guy and Barão, he hasn’t been beaten in 29 fights (including one no contest). In his mind, he’s the top guy. In Dominick’s mind, he’s the top guy. That’s what you’re dealing with here,” said Faber.
“This is going to be some of the weeding out process.”