For Faber, UFC Merger & 135 Move Means Best Days Are Ahead


Urijah Faber file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com

Urijah Faber believes the recently announced WEC-UFC merger will benefit the WEC’s fighters in various ways, but he also believes the UFC will benefit significantly from the action that smaller fighters deliver.

“There’s no doubt that everybody knows that the UFC is the top brand,” Faber said Monday during a “Savage Dog Show” interview on the Sherdog Radio Network. “I think people who know MMA know that the WEC has the most exciting fighters. I think the combination is going to be great.”

The WEC might lack the brand recognition of the UFC, but the promotion developed a cult following by focusing on the 135- through 155-pound divisions. By excluding the heavier weight classes, the WEC has been able to pack entire cards with competitive, fast-paced matchups. Fighting for the lesser brand might not have always been fair to the fighters, though.

“Some people either think that we are the UFC or think that I fight in the UFC or they ask, ‘When you going to go to the big show?’ For me, I’ve known for a long time that we’re the top fighters in the world at our weights, but not everyone else understands that,” Faber said. “We don’t have to explain it anymore. That’s great. Business-wise, you look at the bonuses, you’re going from $10,000 to $65,000. Pay-per-view averages and everything else is up, and viewership’s up.”

Meanwhile Faber’s weight is going down. Following his April loss to WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Faber decided to drop to 135 pounds. It’s a move that might be perfectly timed for another title run, this time in the UFC.

First Faber will have to get by Takeya Mizugaki, whom he meets Nov. 11 at WEC 52, the promotion’s second to last event. “The California Kid” said a test cut to 140 “went really well” and that the move to 135 will not be difficult.

In fact, he explained that he’s enjoying the preparation that fighting at a lower weight demands. Instead of moving in and out of competition mode, Faber is on a steady regimen that requires constant focus. He hopes results will follow accordingly.

“It’s going to be what competitors do, and that’s give themselves every advantage to win,” Faber said of transitioning to 135. “I was skilled enough to compete and do really well at 145 pounds because I was a tough fighter and mentally strong and athletic and things like that. I’m just going to take that down and have another edge on the competition. Now I’m going to be the same size and even bigger than some of the guys. I’m expecting to be faster and just as strong.”

Faber credited Mizugaki as a well-rounded opponent, but he pegged him as a conventional one as well.

“He’s a pretty straightforward guy, and I’m real creative,” Faber said. “I think that’s going to pose some threats for him.”

With a win, and with his name value, Faber could be looking at a 135-pound title shot. Champion Dominick Cruz fights Scott Jorgensen on Dec. 16 in the WEC’s finale, then the belt is going over to the UFC. Faber said he’s ready for a title challenge in the Octagon.

“The bottom line is, I feel like I resonate with fans. You couple that with the UFC fan base, it’s going to be a great thing,” Faber said. “I’m looking forward to having my brightest days in the future. I feel great at this new weight. My body feels incredible, and I’m still motivated to fight. These next couple of years are going to be awesome.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:34:15) with Faber, who also discussed his plan to move back up to 145 for superfights after establishing himself at 135.

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