Today UFC bantamweight Urijah Faber has announced that his upcoming UFC on FOX 22 bout against Brad Pickett will be his last in professional MMA.
He will leave the sport as one of its most highly thought of competitors, one who consistently won over fans time and time again with the heart and determination he showed inside the octagon, and the likeable charisma he showed us out of it.
The California Kid has been credited with bringing some much-needed attention to the lower weight classes during his time as WEC featherweight champion. In his days defending the belt the UFC neglected to include the weight-classes below lightweight, instead opting to focus on the more marketable heavyweights, light-heavyweights and so on. This didn’t change until the WEC dissolved into its parent organisation in 2010.
Urijah, over the course of his five-fight title defence and beyond, showed his drawing power by being the only fighter in the organisation to partake in the two-fight cards that brought in over one million viewers (WEC 34 & 41 respectively).
After a lobsided loss to the future UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in 2010, Faber made a successful drop to bantamweight, picking up wins over high-calibre opposition in Takeya Mizugaki, Michael MacDonald and Iuri Alcantara in both the WEC and his new home the UFC.
His run in the 135lb division saw him propel himself to a title-shot against his longtime nemesis Dominick Cruz earlier this year at UFC 199. Faber, who was 37 at the time, was harrassed by the “Dominator” over five rounds and was no match for the speed and agility of the champion. A loss to Jimmie Rivera followed at UFC 203 and the performance that Faber put on in that contest was one of a much-diminished fighter.
Now, after much consideration on his part and speculation on the parts of others, Faber has decided that his upcoming Sacramento match-up with Brad Pickett will be his last.
Speaking on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Faber dropped the news whilst answering a question about his homecoming bout, stating:
“This is actually going to be my last fight. It just feels right to do it in Sacramento in this new arena and it feels like the right time and the right place.”
“You know I’ve been waiting for this new arena to be built. I was waiting for that Dominick Cruz opportunity and I feel like this will be an epic event. I can’t wait to do this in front of the people I love.”
When pressed for more information by the visibly-surprised Helwani, Faber went on to speak on the longevity of his career, showing his patented gratefulness for everything that had happened throughout.
“I just feel like it feels like the right time. I’ve been super blessed with this great career and I’m just thankful for the health that I have right now and the success that I’ve had.
“I’m excited and proud to give back to the next generation of guys, from creating contenders and champions and being a leader to them. I just feel like now’s the time to have a homecoming and an ‘adios’ at the same time.”
Faber over the years has seen his duties expand from fighter to a role similar to a head coach of sorts – with his own gym Team Alpha having produced some of MMA’s best athletes such as Chad Mendes, TJ Dillashaw, Joseph Benavidez and Paige VanZant.
Urijah has always prided himself on his loyalty and his leadership qualities and with a move away from competitive MMA, he will surely continue to grow as a mentor and as a mind for the sport.
After 43 fights as a mixed martial artist he leaves behind a legacy that at the very least should see him get a consideration for the UFC Hall of Fame. But regardless of that, he truly proved himself to be one of the best in the lighter weight classes over the years and it will be a sad day for MMA when he finally does hang up the gloves for good.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena
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