Have we seen the last of Urijah Faber in the UFC octagon?
According to the 42-year-old Hall of Famer, that was going to be a question addressed earlier this month at UFC 265. Speaking Monday on The MMA Hour, Faber revealed that he was supposed to speak with UFC officials during the recent fight week in Houston about their ideas for a potential comeback bout. Faber noted that he “would’ve liked to heard what the deal was,” but ultimately the two sides never found the time to meet.
A former WEC featherweight champion, Faber is a pioneer of MMA’s lighter-weight classes and one of the most respected names of his era. “The California Kid” retired from the sport in 2016 but returned for a two-fight UFC stint in 2019, defeating Ricky Simon in 46 seconds before losing to Petr Yan. Faber is currently dealing with a dislocated pinky finger on his right hand. However, he hasn’t ruled out another comeback in his future once he’s healthy.
“I don’t know the answer,” Faber said on The MMA Hour. “The one thing for sure is that I was not going to do any type of fighting when there’s no crowd. The whole experience for me is the experience. And sure, the money is great if you go and have a fight, but it’s not just about that for me. It’s about the whole experience, especially at my age and why I’d be doing it. I came out of retirement near my birthday, had a new baby, just the whole shebang. And so if there’s no whole shebang, I’m not going to fight.
“But now that things are opening up [in regards to the pandemic], I wouldn’t put it past me. I just have to make sure that I feel really great and get myself in tip-top shape. I would like to be able to make a fist, of course, especially with my right hand. But yeah, I wouldn’t put it past me, but it’s not like a definitive thing.”
One reason why the question remains so relevant is because Faber would have no shortage of options. Despite being retired, he’s continued to be the target of numerous callouts throughout the years. Just recently, Faber was linked to a potential fight with Marlon Vera. Other bantamweights — both ranked and unranked — have set their sights on him as well.
“I’ve had about eight or nine people call me out,” Faber said. “Casey Kenney just called me out in the ring after Song Yadong’s fight in a friendly manner, just said, ‘Hey, with all due respect, let’s fight.’ [Marlon] ‘Chito’ Vera, somebody told me that he’d posted something recently. ... I think it would be a good fight. There’s a lot of good fights out there for me.”
For Faber, it’s a discussion worth exploring.
At his age, though, it’s also not something he’d be willing to rush into or take lightly.
“For me, I would need a much longer training camp [than two months],” Faber said. “And I did that when I came out of retirement the first time. I did a big rev up and a jiu-jitsu competition and got myself in tip-top shape before I even really considered it, and then I’d say OK for a two-month camp. I’m not doing things half-assed. And I do great against the guys in the room [at the gym] — I mostly grapple these days, I’m not sparring by any means — but I would really take it serious like a ‘Rocky 5’ type of situation when and if I take a fight. So that’s kind of the scenario, not just a two-week or two-month camp.”
Faber still serves as a coach and mentor to many athletes at his gym, Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male, so it’s not as if he’s a stranger to the fight game these days.
Still, there are opportunities aplenty for popular athletes of a bygone era in today’s combat sports landscape, as evidenced by the flood of fighters from Faber’s generation who are finding lucrative paydays in cross-sport boxing matches against the likes of Jake Paul and others. Even boxing matches that pit MMA legends against one another are discovering an audience in recent months, such as the upcoming Sept. 11 bout between former UFC champions Anderson Silva and Tito Ortiz staged by Triller Fight Club.
But Faber? He’s a mixed martial artist through and through, so don’t expect to see him moonlighting in the boxing ring like so many of his retired MMA cohorts.
“I don’t think so.” Faber said. “I’m 42 at this point.”
“As an older fighter, the thing that you have to watch out for is that you are a little bit more likely to be affected by punches, etc. So I can play against that with being extremely good technically, still having enough of a chin and being able to do battle and test that out. But we also have all the different disciplines in mixed martial arts. We have the clinch and we have wrestling and we have jiu-jitsu and we have the ability to kick and push.
“So for a guy who’s 42 and knowing ... that everything is not as tightly knit as it was where it counts, you’ve seen it time and time again — guys like Chuck Liddell and guys who say, ‘Hey, it’s just my chin that is gone,’” Faber continued. “I was a guy who had a style that didn’t really take a lot of damage, but it wouldn’t make sense for me to go throw my hat into a sport where that’s the only way a guy is trying to win against you is to knock your head off. It’s not as much of a chess match, it’s more like checkers.”