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Urijah Faber reflects on memorable final fight night

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UFC on FOX 22 photos Esther Lin photo

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- If you got goose bumps watching the Urijah Faber career retrospective which aired right before his final career fight on Saturday night, you weren’t alone.

Faber himself had no idea the video tribute Golden 1 Center was coming. And he had to make himself stop watching so that he could concentrate on his UFC on FOX 22 bantamweight matchup with Brad Pickett.

“I wasn’t expecting that buildup,” Faber said at the post-fight press conference. “I was in the back and they were sharing special moments in my career and everything and I had to turn my back on it. I’m getting ready to go fight this dude who is going to try to take my head off, and I’m getting choked up and everything. I’ll probably go back and watch it on my own but I had to stay focused and I want to be able to speak afterwards. It was a little emotional. I kept it together and I’m proud of that.”

Faber did indeed get it back together. And then we went out with a bang. “The California Kid” looked like his vintage WEC self against Pickett, moving fast, pushing forward, relentlessly creating openings and searching for finishes.

He nearly got it in the course of a 10-8 opening round, too, after dropping Pickett with a wicked left hook.

“I thought obviously it shouldn’t have been stopped, but I thought he was out of it,” Faber said. “So I caught him with a left hook and I waited just a second. I like Brad a lot and he’s been in a lot of wars himself, if I could get a stop right there I would have, but he showed enough to stick it out. I don’t remember exactly the details of the whole fight, but I know it was close there.”

Faber also put himself in Pickett’s shoes, and knew he wouldn’t want the fight stop if the situation was reversed.

“It could have maybe been stopped, but if I was Brad Pickett and they had stopped it there, I would have been pissed. So I’m glad they continued the fight, and Brad went all three rounds.”

From there, Faber went onto one of the most memorable sendoffs you’ll ever see in combat sports, with the hometown crowd rocking and rolling for 15 minutes as Faber earned the decision. After finishing his career with a record of 34-10, Faber says he was leaving at the right time.

“You know, part of the reason I’m doing this is because I’m able bodied, able mind,” Faber said. “I don’t want to be the guy who, oh he’s falling apart, he’s a little punchy, maybe it’s time to stop. I’ve had a great run, I’ve been a world champ, I’ve been a top contender, I’ve been a poster boy for the organization, for sponsorships, been able to do a lot. I do have a lot of my plate and it’s a tough way to make a living.”

The former WEC featherweight champion hasn’t often been one to brag about his place in MMA history, despite his considerable accomplishments.

But he admits to having a soft spot for big nights in his hometown. Faber drew big crowds to the old Arco Arena on several occasions in both the WEC and the UFC before finishing his career in the new downtown arena.

“I would say some of the biggest thrills were some of the fights here in Sacramento,” Faber said. “The Jens Pulver fight was one that was on a massive level, I was a world champion, fighting a former world champion and a guy that I looked up to, we had a great fight. Fighting Michael MacDonald was awesome. Breaking my hands against Brown, that was tough, at the moment but afterwards it was something I can cherish.”