The "California Kid" gets down to business
Defending his title for the first time, World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Featherweight (145 lb. limit) Champion, Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (16-1) will take on submission expert Joe Pearson (17-7-1) of the Pat Miletich Camp, on Saturday at The Joint, located in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Fresh from his TV debut as a featured fighter on MSNBC network’s Warrior Nation documentary series, Faber spoke about his new gym, his domination of the 145lb weight class, and growing with the WEC.
Q. How did you feel your piece on “Warrior Nation” came across?
A. Really well. It showed a positive twist for MMA and me. It was a realistic view of my lifestyle. I was happy about it.
Q. Did it portray the real you?
A. Yes, I would say so. There was no acting there. I was interacting and training, rather than just narrating it. They let me tell the story.
Q. I know you recently opened your own school called “Ultimate Fitness” in Sacramento, California. Most fighters are not good businessmen, do you consider yourself “business savvy?"
A. Very much so. I haven’t had a job since I graduated from UC Davis and I’ve managed to pay the bills. I have always done my own thing. My family is self employed so I learned a lot from them.
Q. How do you feel about the recent purchase of WEC by Zuffa?
A. I’m real happy about it. Zuffa is setting the standard for the U.S. and (in) the world. It’s a good feeling to know my money is guaranteed. Plus, they always do good promotion and run good shows.
Q. Have you heard whether or not UFC will be adding a 145 lb. division to their organization or will the WEC effectively serve as the promotion for that weight class?
A. I believe the WEC will be the main promoters for the 145 lb. weigh class. The WEC is set up to compete with the UFC, not just feed off of it. I think eventually the UFC might have it, but for now, it will help grow the WEC. They will be the only ones doing big shows with top talent at 145 lbs.
Q.Have you given any thought to moving up in weight for a bigger fight?
A. At some point I may if there is a title or belt available. If there was a big fight with a good opponent, I would do it. Ideally, I would like to fight at 160 lbs, but not permanently. I don’t enjoy cutting weight either.
Q.Where do you feel you would be most comfortable at with your weight?
A. I actually fought at 133 lbs in college so I have already moved up a bit. I could put on another 10 pounds, but right now with my schedule I am too busy fighting to take the time to build it the right way. I have trouble putting on weight because I am so active, but I feel real good at 145 lbs.
Q. If you moved up to the 155 lb. weight class, a matchup people might be very interested in, is one with another California resident, Gilbert Melendez. How do you think you would do against him?
A. It would be a great fight, but I think I would do real well. He is actually a buddy of mine. We have trained together some and our styles match up real well. I would actually look forward to a fight like that.
Q. What other possible opponents do you have your eye on and where do you feel the best competition is in your weight class?
A. Well, at 145lbs I would like to fight Kid Yamamoto. He is number one and I would like a shot at him. I would also like to fight Mark Hominick and Ivan Menjivar, and would like a re-match with Tyson Griffin.
Q. Your only loss was to Tyson Griffin. What went wrong in that fight?
A. Well, in the first eight seconds I hit my head on the cage floor and it really shook me up. I got cut but for some reason, they didn’t stop the fight. After that I was sloppy and way too aggresive. My emotions got the best of me and I got caught with kind of a flying punch. Later I had to get 7 staples in the cut I received from hitting the cage floor.
Q. How do you feel you match up with Joe Pearson? What kind of fight are you anticipating?
A. I imagine he knows I’m tough and he has nothing to lose. He will probably come out with guns blazing, but I will keep my composure. It will be action packed but I don’t think it will go the distance.
Q. Your submissions and TKO’s are pretty even in your record. Pearson has 15 submissions out of 18 fights. Has this caused you to re-think your ground game at all?
A. No, not really. I recently fought a five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion and had no problem on the ground. He had my back for quite awhile but I successfully defended against the Rear Naked Choke. It must be disenchanting for Joe to know he has no chance for a submission. My Jiu-jitsu is top of the line.
Q. Pearson is four inches taller than you. Will the height difference be a problem?
A. We’ll see, but I doubt it. I have fought taller guys before and won. The height is something to think about, but a good fighter always finds a way to deal with it and win.
Q. You dominated both King of the Cage and the Gladiator Challenge. Will you be able to continue that kind of success in the WEC?
A. I am taking the right steps to make sure I stay on top. I am very focused on my boxing and Muay Thai. I have my own gym so I can train all day. I also have great coaches to help me.
Q. Anything you want to say to the fans?
A. Thanks for watching and expect fireworks at my shows. Come and see me live. You won’t regret it!