In Scott Jorgensen’s seven years as a professional mixed martial artist, he’s seen plenty of highs and lows. With 14 career wins, four Fight of the Night awards to his credit, and a one-time title challenge against bantamweight kingpin Dominick Cruz, “Young Guns” has become a main card staple amongst the UFC 135-pound ranks.
And whom does he have to thank for that?
In large part, it’s the same man who is next in line to punch him in the face – former mentor Urijah Faber.
Faber, who has become the face of MMA’s lighter weight classes, has been a role model for countless fighters over the last decade. With his cleft chin, pearly white smile, and thrilling fighting style, he’s defined a generation of sub-six-foot scrappers and laid the blueprint for future fighters to follow in divisions that have been notoriously difficult to promote.
In Jorgensen’s case, not only was he an admirer of Faber, but also credits him for being the person who convinced him to pursue a career in professional fist fighting.
“Urijah was two years ahead of me in college. So he was done with college and I was just finishing up, and he was already fighting. I’ve been a big fan of MMA since I was a little kid,” recounted Jorgensen during a recent media tour in support of their Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale main event showdown on Saturday in Las Vegas.
“I used to warm up with a Team Punishment long sleeve t-shirt and a Robbie Lawler t-shirt that Jens (Pulver) had given me. So I loved MMA and (Faber) is fighting… the one I remember, we were in Reno at the Reno Tournament of Champions and he was talking about it.
“He had his own shirt, so I’m like, ‘That’s so cool!’ And he said, ‘You should try it. You’ll love it. You’ll make some money.’ So I tried it and I absolutely fell in love with it. I had opportunities to move to the Olympic training center (and) stick with wrestling, but I just fell in love with MMA because it came at so much of a less stressful environment.”
You heard that correctly; the former three-time PAC 10 champion actually found fighting in a cage with a highly trained martial artist less stressful than the daily grind of collegiate wrestling.
“Towards the end of college, the pressure you feel on you – like at the NCAA tournament – just daily, weekly, practice, it’s a lot to bear,” said the 30-year-old.
“I was on scholarship, so I felt like I have to do this. I have to do it well. I have to keep my scholarship. I have to pay for my education,” recounted Jorgensen. “MMA, I choose to do it. I had a great job before this that I could go back to, but I want to do this. Fighting is just so much less stressful and that’s how (Faber) got me into it.
“I tried it. I fell in love with it. Essentially he introduced me to our managers. I even think my first Showtime fight, he got wind of it first, called me and asked me if I wanted it. And that was how I got into the WEC.”
Soon after the WEC/UFC buyout in late 2006, Jorgensen went to Sacramento, Calif., to train with Faber at Team Alpha Male. Jorgensen was a staple at the Nor Cal gym and slowly became a de facto member.
“For forever, I don’t know how long it was, but everyone thought I was a part of Team Alpha Male in the beginning,” Jorgensen remembered. “That’s because I was out there a lot and I had so much to learn from Urijah.”
As things tend to do in combat gyms, however, it got a tad crowded – especially at a gym like Alpha Male, where they specialize in the lighter weight classes. Members of the team with longer tenure began turning pro, and it was obvious that the time had come for the “Young Gun“ to start looking for his own camp.
“Then Joseph (Benavidez) got into the WEC,” he said.
“He was my weight, so out of courtesy and to not make things awkward for our team, so to speak, MMA Inc. (the management company that represents both Faber and Jorgensen), I stayed at home and trained elsewhere. Through the years we’ve been friends, had sparring sessions, and been cool.”
Despite their history, Jorgensen is quick to point out that he has a fiancée, a subpar 3-3 record in his last six fights, and come fight time, this is about securing his future, all friendship aside.
“When we step in the cage, that’s the only thing that matters – those 25 minutes and how we handle ourselves,” said Jorgensen.
“I’m not worried about Urijah and what he’s going to do. I don’t care. I’m going to take care of my business and do what I do, and make him worry about what I’m doing.”
Jorgensen reiterates that even if there were any reluctance to fight his former mentor, picking and choosing his opponents has never been a popular practice for him.
“I’ve never picked my opponents,” he exclaimed.
“Never once has (Sean Shelby, UFC matchmaker) called and said, ‘Hey, you’ve got this (fight). Will you take it, or do you want somebody different?’ It’s not that way with me. Tell me to fight ’em; I’ll fight ’em. This time it happens to be me and Urijah getting after it.”