Urijah Faber has long been one of the most beloved fighters in the UFC but on Saturday night, he bid farewell to the sport of mixed martial arts. “The California Kid” officially hung up his gloves after dominating Brad Pickett in one of the featured bouts at UFC on Fox 22 and it’s safe to assume that he will be missed.
The Team Alpha Male founder achieved great success in MMA, culminating with the capturing of the WEC featherweight title as well as countless post-fight awards for both the UFC and WEC. The popular Sacramento resident never won a UFC title, but he took on the best the sport had to offer. Faber looked to be in top form against “One Punch” and nearly had the Brit out in the first after leveling him with a powerful left hook before winning a clear-cut unanimous decision. Still, Faber believes the time his right for him to say farewell.
“It’s a great way to go out this way and go out on my terms,” he said at the post-fight press conference on Saturday night. “Part of the reason why I’m doing this is because I’m able-bodied and able-minded. I’ve been a world champion and a top contender and a poster boy for the organization for years [but] it’s a tough way to make a living. I can go on for another 10 years but I’m choosing to wrap it up and head wherever I’m headed next.”
And where he’s headed appears to be a multi-forked path in the road. Faber revealed that he has several irons in the fire and he’ll need to step away from hand-to-hand combat in order to focus on his myriad of projects.
“I’m all about making some cash, so we’ll see if the UFC has some cash opportunities,” he said regarding a possible position with the Las Vegas-based promotion. “I have a lot of different projects. I’ve got a clothing line, a construction company, a supplement company, a bunch of cool stuff that I’m doing. I’m pitching a show with the ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ guys so we’ll see how that goes. It’s not like I’m set for life [so] I’m going to have to figure out the next phase of things and I’m excited about that.”
Faber appeared to enjoy reflecting on the formative years of his career, when MMA had not yet developed the following it has now. He fought back in the days before the sport was sanctioned across the country and the biggest paychecks he and his brethren received were for a few hundred bucks, if that. He laughed about how rapidly the sport has changed.
“I was fighting in the Indian casino in tennis shoes when it was illegal in California,” he said. “I didn’t tell my mom [I was fighting] because I knew she’d be pissed. That was the start of my career and it’s grown into this. I’ve been lucky and there have been a lot of people who helped me.”
Faber also spoke about the biggest moments of his career, including winning the WEC 145-pound belt, toppling former UFC world champ Jens Pulver and headlining massive events in his hometown. Though he stated that he doesn’t live life with any regrets, he did admit that there was one opponent that got away.
“[Norifumi] ‘Kid’ Yamamoto,” he said. “He was a superstar in the lighter weights before I was. I would have 400 views on my YouTube pages and he’d have, like, 20,000. This guy was the man and every time I won, he was always ranked No. 1 ahead of me. ‘Kid’ was the one and I would have liked to have fought.”