The Lightweight fighters are giants now, interview with Urijah “The California Kid” FaberIn the past when only the heavyweights and lightheavyweights had the benefit of the spotlights and all attention turned for them, the lightweights were limited at competing in events without muchpromotion. Nowadays, with the increase of MMA as a sport, the lightweights are coming to prove they deserve the same value the heavier fighters do. One of the fighters who is leading the lightweights is the WEC and KOTC champion, Urijah Faber. The California Kid, as he is nicknamed, is a California native and 14-1 fighter representative of Capital City Fighting Alliance team. Faber is coming off from a R2 TKO victory over the famous Japanese SHOOTO veteran Naoya Uematsu at Gladiators Challenge 51-“Madness at the Memorial” in last July 1st and he talks to us below about his previous fights and his up&coming battles plus his joining the WFA. Take a look!
DENIS MARTINS: What kind of problem and how bad was the problem you had in your teeth?
URIJAH FABER: It was an infection in the gums, and the pain was not terrible, but I got an extreme fever, and could not eat for a few days. I lost a lot of weight, and it took me about a week to recuperate.
DM: How frustrated did this problem make you? Because it you sidelined for two events, WEC and KOTC.
UF: I felt very frustrated, both of the events were important to me, and I am not the type of person that likes to bow out. My career is at an important time right now, and I don’t feel that fighting when sick is very intelligent. Although in my heart I wanted to be in the events I’m glad I didn’t.
DM: When will you return to training?
UF: I have already began training. I started training as I felt better.
DM: Will this time off from training harm your performance for your match against Randy Spence on September 9th?
UF: I have a huge cushion in my training, because I am always working out. A week off isn’t going to be detrimental. DM:: This fight will take place at Cow Palace in San Francisco. Are you excited about fighting in such a large venue? UF: Yeah for sure. This is very exciting the Cow Palace holds nearly 15,000 people and this is close to home for me. Randy Spence has been in the fight game for a long time, and I expect a battle. Jake Shields will also be on the card, along with my Jiu Jitsu instructor Cassio Werneck, a world champion in BJJ.
DM: Your last match was at GC 51 against Naoya Uematsu. How did it go and how do you analyze your performance?
UF: I think that it went really well, Uematsu is considered a very good fighter. He is well rounded and very experienced. I feel that it was a pretty one-sided fight, and I hope that people realize that Iam at a higher level. Beating a fighter with the ability and skill of Uematsu helps illustrate that I am not just a very good fighter, but a great fighter.
DM: How were your expectations on facing this Japanese fighter?
UF: I knew that he was very technical, and that being very aggressive and high paced would take him out of his game. He is known for leg locks, and has powerful kicks. I had a great game plan and did not let him get his offense started.
DM: This was the second SHOOTO veteran [first one was Hiroyuki Abe at KOTC-“Mortal Sins” May ’05] you beat. Did you see similarities into their games?
UF: Yes. They were both very composed and well rounded, I found the similarities in that they both seem to be patient and try to slow the pace. I feel that the Japanese in general are very calm. For me, a fight needs intensity and explosion. A fight is a technical battle but with the mentality of a street fight, I like to fight with emotion. Both of my opponents from Japan seem to approach the fight like a game. That is not my mind set.
DM: You keep yourself fighting KOTC, GC, TKO and WEC. These are good events, but do you have aspirations of fighting events like SHOOTO Japan? Do you think these two victories you had against SHOOTO veterans can generate invitations from Japan? UF: I have recently signed with the new American organization WFA, along with some great MMA stars. At this point in my career I am looking to take fights that pay the most money. I would love to fight in SHOOTO, K-1, or Pride but would like to get paid well.
DM: You may fight at WEC to support the Ryan Bennet’s family? Do you think this attitude of helping is what makes this sport to be so different from the others? UF: I think it is awesome that the MMA world is coming together to help. Ryan Bennet was an incredible person, and respected by so many joining the benefit show is my honor, I wish I could do more. Maybe when MMA starts paying like boxing, we can really start helping out. The Mixed Martial Arts world is so well connected. Even with the growing popularity there is such a great network of amazing people, it truly is a unique sport. DM: Were you invited to compete at WEC or did you volunteer?
UF: I did voluntarily. I talked to Scott and told him that if I could get out of my fight with KOTC I would definitively fight. This was something that was not very likely. It was originally proposed that I have a grappling match with Gilbert Melendez it was later changed to Cory Cass.
DM: How did you see that fight in TKO 24-“Eruption” in 1/28/06 versus Menjivar?
UF: I feel that it was a very close fight, but feel that I was definitively winning. We both were exchanging strikes, but I was definitively more aggressive, and ended the first round with a takedown and some ground and pound. I felt I was doing a lot of chasing in the fight, and Menjivar was being more of a counter puncher. On the last exchange I did a standing switch and we collided heads hard on the way down. My eyebrow hit the back of his head and he immediately threw the illegal kick. Like I said before I didn’t think that the kick had caused the cut, but in a fight situation you can’t really tell. I have watched the video and it’s obviously that this is what happened. The fight was very even, and it will be a great rematch. Hopefully in the rematch it will be more decisive.
DM: You performed very well against former undefeated fighter Charlie Valencia at KOTC-“Predator”(5/13/06). What did you expect from him in that fight and what did you have in mind to fit against him?
UF: I knew that I would be stronger than he was, and I also feel very comfortable in all aspects of the fight game. My game plan was to be aggressive, push the pace of the fight and create scrambles. He is a very tough fighter, but I caught him early.
DM: Your weight class is around 145lbs, but world premier events as UFC, WFA, HERO’S and Pride FC have lightweight divisions around 155lbs. Are you thinking on moving up? Or this deal is something tough to reach for you?
UF: My weight class is 145lbs, and I walk around at about 152lbs. I would not have a problem going up to 155 lbs, but many of those fighters walk around between 170lbs-180lbs. I believe I would dovery well against 100% of the 155lbs fighters, but I would be at a huge disadvantage against some of the top guys, and catching one on the jaw from a bigger opponent is a risk. The WFA is going to promote me at 145lbs with super fights at 155lbs. I think this is in my best interest. DM: Faber, what about your defeat to Tyson Griffin? Are you expecting a re-match soon?
UF: I would definitively like a rematch with Tyson, but it definitively isn’t my main concern right now. I’m just glad that Tyson is doing so well right now, so when we do meet again it will be a big deal, and we can get some cash. Although the fight started out with a big disadvantage on my side when I busted my head open, it was still one of my most entertaining fights, and the first time I had really been shook up. Tyson has since proven to be a very legitimate fighter and is even big for the 155lbs weight class. I’d like totry to put on some weight and be completely healthy when we do it again. I know we have both improved since our first encounter. It should be an incredible fight.
DM: What do you expect for your career in the second half of 2006?
UF: I have 3 dates that I will be fighting for sure, aside from my submission grappling match on July28th, I will fight Ryan Diaz on August 4th and I have a Big fight in the Cow Palace On September 9th against Randy Spence. I have a fight in August but the details are still uncertain. I’m actually going to be opening a gym in down town Sacramento in mid September, so aside from fighting every month, training everyday, and working on my new business “Ultimate Fitness” www.ultimatefitness.pro. I plan on winning all my fights, collecting my cash, and trying to get out to the beach on occasion.
DM: Thanks for your time. Last words, thank sponsors, messages to the fans??
UF: Please check out my website www.urijahfaber.com (drop me a line), and check out my sponsors’ page and buy their gear. Two thousand and six year is my time to shine, so watch “The California Kid” make waves in the MMA world. Thanks for the interview.