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Urijah Faber not inclined to fight T.J. Dillashaw; open to Francisco Rivera rematch

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Esther Lin

Urijah Faber is willing to admit that a fight between himself and the first UFC champion at his Team Alpha Male gym, T.J. Dillashaw, would be an interesting matchup.

"It is a tremendous matchup," the founder of the famed Sacramento camp said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.

Faber even got a taste of such a matchup when the two went a round in practice Monday.

"We actually fought each other one round today," Faber said. "We were working situations. I would say he got the better of me today in a five-minute round, me working on the bottom."

UFC president Dana White is interested in the bout as well. First, he told reporters in Las Vegas last week that he considers former champ Renan Barao and Faber the top choices for Dillashaw's next title defense. he then reiterated on Wednesday's UFC Tonight that Faber and Dillashaw have said they'd be down to fight.

But, for now at least, the bout looks like it's going to remain a tease.

"My gut instinct is no, I wouldn't fight T.J.," Faber said.

On The MMA Hour, Faber said that not only would he be inclined to say no to such a fight, but that as of Monday, at least, no one at the UFC had proposed the fight to him.

"Dana came out and said that and he hadn't even spoken to me about it," Faber said. "Then I saw him afterwards and he never said anything about it."

Faber says he understands why White would float the idea in public. With what was expected to be a big-money fight between Dillashaw and former champion Dominick Cruz shelved due to Cruz's latest injury, and Raphael Assuncao shelved, Dillashaw vs. Faber would make the UFC a good chunk of change.

"My money stays the same regardless of who I fight, it makes the most money for [White]," Faber said. "I have no idea, we haven't had any discussions about it. .. This hasn't been talked about with me or the UFC brass. I don't have an answer at this point."

One fight Faber would accept without reservation if it was offered would be a rematch of his controversial UFC 181 victory over Francisco Rivera.

Faber accidentally eye-poked Rivera in the second round of the bout. Referee Mario Yamasaki missed the poke, and Faber finished his opponent off for a submission, leading to the strange scene of the popular Faber getting booed by the crowd in Las Vegas.

The former WEC featherweight champ doesn't want that cloud hanging over him, so if the UFC offers a rematch, Faber, who would like to fight again by March, says he's game.

"The funniest thing is, the fight with Francisco Rivera, I feel like, I've had a lot of fights where I lost, and felt better for it, but talk about getting irritated after a win, you know what I mean?" Faber said. "Talk about, you go out there and you train your butt off and you perform, and the whole accidental eye-poke thing tainted that victory for me."

"I don't think it was dirty," Faber continued. "The eye poke was part of the finish, definitely when there's an eye poke like that and he reacted the way he did, I can understand it."

While Faber isn't going to actively campaign for a Rivera rematch, he wouldn't turn away from it, either.

"I don't care if we do it again, I'm just saying I would. It's not like i"m begging for that fight, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat if they told me so," he said.

Rivera, for his part, will attempt to have the decision overturned at Monday's Nevada Athletic Commission hearing.

Regardless of whom Faber ends up fighting next, one thing he won't do is begrudge another fighter his opportunity. Even if that fighter happens to be Barao, who had to bow out of a fight with Dillashaw in August after a weight-cutting fiasco. If the UFC chooses to go back to Dillashaw vs. Barao, Faber approves.

"I'm never a guy that talks bad about someone's opportunities," Faber said. "I'm a guy who gets a lot of opportunities and you've got people in the media on the internet acting like its some kind of hoax. That guy has been a warrior since he was a little kid, one of the longest winning streaks in the sport. Whatever he gets he deserves, in my opinion."