LAS VEGAS – Urijah Faber has about three categories of opponents.
He knows who he wants to fight. He knows who he absolutely doesn’t want to fight. And he knows who he would fight if he had to avoid that second scenario.
On Saturday, Faber (27-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC) fights longtime friend Scott Jorgensen (14-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in the main event of the TUF 17 Finale at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
And he’s willing to go through with that because it sure beats No. 2 – fighting his Team Alpha Male training partners – and, given Jorgensen’s standing in the bantamweight division, it might just be one of his quickest paths back to No. 1, which would be a fight against longtime rival Dominick Cruz, the champion who has been benched with back-to-back knee surgeries.
“That’s why I have to take fights like this and save my ace card – because I’m not going to fight my brothers,” Faber said. “T.J. Dillashaw, Chad Mendes – these guys, I recruited when I was at UC-Davis and they were in high school, and they followed through on their careers and I put them on my team. So it’s a whole different scenario. Danny (Castillo) and I were buddies our freshman year of high school.”
With Jorgensen, it’s not quite the same since they’re not teammates – though they have spent some time training together in the past. But it’s not as if they merely shared a cab to the airport one day and have traded a few text messages.
Their families know each other. This is a real friendship, Faber assures us.
But because of the level both are at, Faber believes, both mentally and physically, this fight is possible without tearing the friendship apart. Business is business.
“It takes someone that has their head on straight,” Faber told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “We both can check our egos at the door and understand that this is business and know we’re both going to be OK. I don’t think he has the ability to kill me and I don’t have the ability to kill him – we’re too well prepared for that kind of thing. But it’s going to be a great fight.”
As for where this win would put Faber, he’d have two straight after losing an interim bantamweight title fight to Renan Barao this past summer. Barao since has defended that interim strap against Michael McDonald and fights Eddie Wineland in June.
Meanwhile, Cruz still is on the shelf with no definite timetable for his return. But the animosity level Faber has toward Cruz is enough that he’d happily fight him a third time. Or a fourth. Or a fifth. All while still preparing properly for the fight and not getting too emotionally invested.
“I’d fight Dominick Cruz every day if they let me,” he said. “But you have to separate all that and prepare for every fight like it’s a championship fight, and I’ve always done that.”
For more on The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.