The “California Kid” is nearing the end of his fighting career. Urijah Faber said Monday that his next bout, against Brad Pickett at UFC on FOX 22 on Dec. 17, will be the final one of his pioneering career.
“I’ve been kind of waiting for this, and this is actually going to be my last fight,” Faber told Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour.” The 37-year-old bantamweight said that “it just feels right,” because the fight will be held in Sacramento, where he grew up and still trains, at the brand-new Golden 1 Center.
“It just feels like the right time and the right place,” Faber said. “I’ve been waiting for this new arena to be built … and I feel like this is going to be an epic event and I can’t wait to do it in front of the people I love.” He added, “Now’s the time to have a homecoming and an adios at the same time.”
Faber began his professional MMA career in 2003 and his record of 33-10-0 includes a two-year run, from 2006 to 2008, as the World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion. He moved down to bantamweight in 2010, and joined the UFC when the WEC merged into that company. Faber, arguably the WEC’s biggest star, is credited with bringing greater interest and credibility to the lower MMA weight classes.
Since joining the UFC, Faber has posted a 9-6 record, including losses in all four of his bantamweight title fights. He’ll go into the Pickett bout with three losses in his past four fights, all by unanimous decision, including a rubber match with longtime rival Dominick Cruz at UFC 199 in June.
“I’ve been teetering with [retirement] for a long time,” Faber told Helwani. “The thing is that I’m lucky. Like I said, I have my health and I really love what I’m doing. But just as far as the passion goes, I have a passion for what I’m doing still, but it doesn’t get the same emotion that it has in the past. I remember — my favorite fighter of all time is Roy Jones Jr., and I remember him talking about him kind of feeling that, where he was playing little basketball games the same day as a boxing match.
“It took a long time to get to this point where I’m skilled enough, and I’m in a position enough to where I can fight and have a great time, but like my last fight, and my last couple fights, I haven’t found that emotional rise or fall,” he continued. “That is kind of a strange thing for me. I still love what I’m doing and that’s the reason why I’m doing it, but I just feel like this is going to be something that’s going to be an emotional thing for me, it’s going to be a passion thing. I’m going to train my butt off, and I just feel like right now is the right time.”
Faber said that he is excited about continuing to work with the up-and-coming fighters on his Sacramento-based Team Alpha Male, including Cody Garbrandt, who will take on Cruz for the bantamweight title at UFC 207 on Dec. 30. Others include Paige VanZant and Chad Mendes.
“I’ve loved just being a part of other people’s success,” Faber said Monday. He added, “I feel like it’s kind of like a perfect time for me to make an exit and work on building this team. I have some entertainment stuff I’ve been working on, shows and some movie stuff. I’ve got business stuff that I’ve been working on, but I’m most excited about growing the next generation of fighters, bringing multiple belts back to the Sacramento area. And I want to go out with a massive win against a great opponent in my home town.”
(H/T MMA Fighting)