clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Urijah Faber Thrilled at Chance to Fight in UFC, Nostalgic at WEC's Ending

Seven years ago when Urijah Faber was just beginning his professional MMA career, he wrote out a set of goals. One of his chief objectives was to become a champion in the UFC or PRIDE. The latter organization never had a championship in his favored division when he fought as a featherweight, and he ran into the same problem when it came to the UFC.

Faber, it seemed, was too small to be a major champion. Only he found a way to buck the system, helping to build the WEC's featherweight belt into a prestigious piece of hardware and the promotion into a player. So while Faber was never quite able to cross off that line on his to-do list, he was going to have to live with "close enough."

Now though, his dream might become a reality. With the UFC-WEC merger, the "California Kid" is free to chase a a goal he had nearly resigned himself from ever getting: the UFC championship.

"I'm excited," he said on a recent conference call. "The bottom line is this: I've kind of made amends with the fact that the WEC was equal to the UFC. It's just kind of irritating to explain to people all the time who don't know or understand. In my mind, I was a champ at the highest level and it's really just a change of initials. The implications of the money side, the respect factor of fans in general and not having to explain to people who don't understand the intermixing of the two from the get-go, it'll be easier for me. But I'm excited."

Faber, who takes on Takeya Mizugaki in the main event of WEC 52 -- the penultimate event in organization history before the merger -- will be making his bantamweight debut.

Though it will be his first match at the weight class, WEC general manager Reed Harris noted that Faber is "always in contention for something," and it's certainly possible that with a win, he could get a title match in early 2011.

Faber has been with the WEC since before it was bought by Zuffa in Dec. 2006. He debuted in March 2006 and won the company's featherweight title. In January 2007, he successfully defended the built in the first show after the promotion joined the Zuffa umbrella. And more than four years after he began his affiliation with WEC, he remains as one of its biggest draws and looks towards the future.

"Being a guy who really helped set up the WEC, had I done the same work and been a champion in the UFC, who knows what could've been as far as my popularity goes, but we're going to find out now," he said. "I plan on getting the belt back, and I plan on continuing to grow my fanbase and being a force in the sport."

While Faber clearly has many possibilities swirling around -- including rumors of a coaching spot on the Ultimate Fighter, and the title shot possibility -- he says when it comes down to it, he's narrow-sighted enough to concentrate on the most important task.

"I got one person to worry about, Takeya Mizugaki," he said. "He's a very tough opponent, and I think it's a great matchup for me. I look forward to not only winning but performing and making a fight that's exciting for the fans."

Still, of course, there is a tinge of sadness that a company he helped put on the MMA map will be no more.

"I feel I've been working for and with the WEC to build it," he said. "The WEC's been a springboard for MMA, showing some of the best fighters on the planet, and opening the eyes of America for the lighter weight fighters. Zuffa did a great thing, building MMA. That was the overall goal. And now we get the opportunity to fight in the UFC and I'm excited about it. This is going to be an antique, this upcoming November 11 card. It's something that's going to go down in history. I'm stoked to be a part of it, and I'm stoked to put myself in line for a UFC title."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting