All around the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas during UFC 100 weekend, MMA fighters could be seen signing autographs for adoring throngs of fans. It all seemed pretty routine: smile, shake, sign, pose. But one thing was different about the Silver Star booth. The athlete putting his pen to paper there was doing so despite having casts on both of his hands.
Urijah Faber, the former WEC featherweight champion, badly injured both of his hands during his July unanimous decision loss to Mike Brown. He dislocated his left thumb and suffered two broken bones on his right hand. The latter injury required steel plates to hasten recovery.
Faber says now that he has "no idea" when he'll be able to return to the cage, and that "it's going to be some months." In fact, it's quite likely that we won't see him back in the cage until 2010.
But in his typical, laidback style, none of it seems too worrisome for the "California Kid."
"Hopefully it's sooner than later, but I'll still be a happy dude," he said. "I'll be happy no matter what. I'm good no matter what happens."
While he waits for his hands to heal, Faber said he's been working on explosivity and hoping to add some muscle, saying he never truly focused on strength and conditioning because he's always been naturally strong.
"I've got to do different things to keep my body from atrophying," he said. "So I'm getting real creative. I'm going really hard, doing lots of leg workouts and shadow boxing. I'm also watching tape and working on business opportunities. By the time I get rid [of the casts], my leg kicks are going to be unreal."
Despite no longer wearing a belt, Faber (22-3) remains one of the biggest draws in the WEC. His last fight with Brown drew a WEC record 13,027 fans to the Arco Arena in his hometown of Sacramento. Two other WEC events he headlined also drew over 10,000 fans (WEC 38 and WEC 34, both pitting him against Jens Pulver), making him the only WEC star who can make that claim.
With him out of the mix for a spell, the WEC is expected to move forward by pairing Brown with rising star Jose Aldo on a November card. That matchup, while not official, has been confirmed by credible fight sources.
So for the time being, Faber will be on the outside looking in, and he's more than willing to scratch his way back to the top.
"I'm all for it. I'm ready for anything," he said. "I'll fight anybody I can that they want me to fight, anyone that they think is interesting."
Still, like any champion no longer wearing gold, he believes he has unfinished business with the man who took his place at the top.
"I think a third fight with Mike Brown can definitely be a challenge in my future," he said. "Obviously I went through some adversity in the last fight, so there's more to be said in that whole arena."
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