Urijah Faber Wasn’t Initially Aware Eye Poke Led to Victory Over Rivera at UFC 181

By Tristen Critchfield Dec 7, 2014
Urijah Faber said he was “not happy about” the way he won his fight. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com

Urijah Faber is not accustomed to hearing boos after having his hand raised in the Octagon.

One of the sport’s most popular lighter weight fighters, “The California Kid” has been a fan favorite since his days as the face of the now-defunct World Extreme Cage Fighting promotion. Following Faber’s second-round submission victory over Francisco Rivera at UFC 181, however, those in attendance at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas sounded none too pleased with the outcome, showering Faber with boos as his victory was announced.

That reaction occurred because an inadvertent eye-poke set the stage for Faber to secure his 13th submission triumph in UFC and WEC competition. The Team Alpha Male founder claims that he wasn’t aware of the foul until he got a chance to review the fight. In the heat of the moment he was simply relying on instinct.

“I’m not happy about that. I watched the replay, and I did get him in the eye,” Faber said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I’ve been someone that sees a little bit of weakness and I’m able to finish. That’s how I’ve gotten to the point where I am. I just went on my instincts and got the finish.”

Prior to the unfortunate ending, it appeared that Rivera was getting the better of his favored opponent. For most of the opening frame, the Tachi Palace Fights veteran stifled Faber’s wrestling while landing hard right hands and leg kicks.

“I wanted to keep it standing. I knew he was going to try to take me down. My standup is better than his and once I stuffed a couple of his takedown attempts I got a lot of confidence,” Rivera said in a post-fight interview.

Things changed drastically once Rivera was poked in the eye.

“He poked me and I didn’t know where he was. I couldn’t see him so I just tried to cover myself,” Rivera said. “The next thing I knew it was over.”

Referee Mario Yamasaki failed to identify the foul. Without a halt in the action, Rivera had no chance against an opportunistic opponent. Faber, meanwhile, said it would be difficult for him to identify that his advantage was gained as the result of an eye poke as the fight was unfolding.

“It’s a very instinctual time in there. It’s not like…you’re thinking things out. It’s an action-reaction sport,” he said. “When you’re in it as long as I am, you react. I don’t remember fights for the most part until after I go back and watch them. I don’t remember thinking, ‘I’ve got him in the eye’ or anything like that. I just thought, ‘I’m getting another finish.’ And that’s what I did.”


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