These days, Urijah Faber has been more concerned about the state of his family and MMA gym than his career.
But a fight with Cub Swanson would be just the thing to give him a jolt for his 43rd birthday.
In other words, Faber’s message to Swanson is: I accept. Now, for the possibly hard part in getting UFC President Dana White to agree.
Swanson recently called for an “honorary WEC belt” showdown with Faber as his next outing. Faber was totally down and made that public. White hadn’t seen the messages, however, when he texted “The California Kid” about Swanson just before Christmas.
The UFC boss was remarking how much Faber and Swanson have turned into family men, not how to get them into a cage together.
“Then I sent him the article, and he goes, ‘Dude, that’s crazy that I mentioned Cub and I mentioned you,’” Faber said Wednesday on The MMA Hour.
And what of the potential matchup? The answer is unclear, according to Faber, who suffered a knockout loss to current interim — and former undisputed — bantamweight champ Petr Yan in the second fight of his 2019 comeback.
“I told Dana that I’ll be 43 in May, that will be 20 years of combat,” Faber said. “I said, ‘The dollar is not worth what it used to be two years ago. So let’s talk again on that front. But I’d be down to throw down and fight.’ ... He just said [of the coincidence], ‘That’s crazy.’ It wasn’t like a negotiation, we’re just calling to BS.”
Faber said he was close to getting back on the horse with a combat jiu-jitsu matchup in Cancun, Mexico, before the pandemic put a crimp in his plans. Then he got busy with the day-to-day life of running Team Alpha Male, various businesses, and fatherhood. Only a bout of COVID-19 had slowed him down when he spoke on Wednesday.
“I keep thinking I’m going to get myself on track to get in the best shape ever, whatever that looks like for me at this point,” he said. “I just haven’t got it going.”
At one point, a fight with Swanson was more than just a lark. In the mid-aughts, Faber said they nearly got matched up on the California circuit, which back then was dominated by King of the Cage and Gladiator Challenge, who promoted on reservation land because MMA wasn’t yet sanctioned.
“He was trying to make his name,” Faber said of Swanson. “He just got started, and I think he said no to the fight. I didn’t really know who he was at the time, and I’m glad that he did, because they were going to pay him a couple hundred bucks and they were going to pay me, like, $1,000 at Soboba Casino.”
Both went on to become lighter-weight stars in the now-defunct WEC and UFC. Faber was a former WEC featherweight champion and four-time UFC title challenger, while Swanson flirted several times with No. 1 contender status.
While he didn’t get the same recognition, Swanson has outlasted Faber in the octagon, and stopped Faber’s longtime teammate Darren Elkins by knockout this past December.
“I like Cub a lot,” Faber said. “He’s a guy that’s grown as an individual. He’s getting better as a fighter. I would rather be 38 than 43 when we fight, but it sounds like something that would be a lot of fun. I’m always looking for things around my birthday to get my engine going and give me a reason to get in amazing shape.”
Faber’s goal is to fight in front of a crowd before May so he can dedicate the fight to his son, Rome.
“I would have fought already over the last couple of years, but I’m all about the whole experience, and I wasn’t going to go sit in a quiet room and fight somebody,” he said. “So I’d like to do it with a crowd if that’s the case.”
Even with two decades’ worth of experience and 47 fights, Faber isn’t ready to declare his retirement. He tried that in 2016, and it didn’t stick. Now, it’s about staying vital and having fun — and reminding the world that he can still compete with the best of them.
“Absolutely, I’d be down to have a paid birthday present that makes me feel like I’m on top of the world,” he said.