Urijah Faber is the Norman Vincent Peale of mixed martial arts. Nobody puts the power of positive thinking to better, or more frequent, use than the UFC's bantamweight star.
Talk to Faber for any length of time and you'll hear the same phrases repeated incessantly: "I believe," "I can," "I will," and "I'm not worried."
Peale once wrote, "People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success."
It's a phrase that Faber, a former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion, lives by.
He'll fight highly regarded Renan Barão for the interim bantamweight title Saturday in the main event of UFC 149 at the Scotiabank Saddledome and, typically, he expressed little concern about either the possibility of losing or the pressure to perform.
Barão is on an 18-fight winning streak, a 31-fight unbeaten streak and is regarded as one of the best finishers in the sport. Faber, though, has a ready answer when confronted with the problems Barão presents.
"He hasn't faced me yet," Faber says, chuckling. "He's done all these things to other guys, but he hasn't fought me. He's human like anyone else."
The walls in Faber's bedroom in his Sacramento, Calif., home are dotted with goals and motivational quotes. His primary goal now is, once again, to have a championship belt strapped around his waist.
It's been 3½ years since Faber held a world title, yet he's remained at the top of his class in terms of opportunity and performance.
He was set to meet arch rival Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight title at UFC 148 on July 7 in Las Vegas after coaching opposite Cruz on "The Ultimate Fighter Live." But Cruz tore up his knee and could be out for more than a year.
As a result, Faber was pitted against Barão for the interim belt. Though many believe an interim belt is meaningless, Faber is not among that group.
As he would say, when he wins Saturday he won't feel like a phony champion. He lost an excruciatingly close decision to Cruz for the belt at UFC 132 a year ago that evened the series between them at a win apiece. Faber submitted Cruz in 2007.
"I basically go out there and I think that when I beat Renan Barão, I'll be the best fighter in the world," Faber said. "I feel Dominick and I had a super close fight last time. He got the nod from the judges, but I don't feel like he beat me up. I feel I definitely did some damage to him.
"It was a close fight, but I felt walking away, as a man, I handled business. I'll feel like the champion, for sure, but I definitely want the opportunity to make sure that's the case."
Faber has always sought the best opposition he can face, which has earned him the everlasting respect of UFC president Dana White.
When White was going through the process of choosing a replacement opponent for Cruz, there was no doubt where Faber stood.
Barão was the guy with the record and the reputation. And while several other names were bandied about, Faber was hopeful White would choose Barão.
"The guy is 30-1, [and] he's a tough guy; he's a very, very tough fighter," White said of Barão. "And Urijah Faber who went through that whole season of The Ultimate Fighter to fight Cruz, you know absolutely, 100 percent, [he] not only accepted the fight with Renan Barão, but before it was even announced said, 'I hope it's Renan Barão.' "
[Related: From the slums to a title shot, Renan Barão has earned his chance]
Faber's belief in his ability is so absolute that he won't accept less than the best opposition. Eight of his last 10 opponents were either WEC or UFC world champions.
It can be a daunting task, getting no break from the stream of top contenders, but it's why Faber is far and away the biggest star among the lighter weight fighters in the sport.
He's been beaten by Cruz, the bantamweight champion, and Jose Aldo, the featherweight champion, but his star shines much brighter than either of theirs.
"My goal is to be successful as a fighter, as a businessman and as a person, and I work on that all the time," he said. "There's no reason to worry when you know you've done everything you need to do to reach a goal. I'm confident, I believe in myself, because I know I have prepared and done what I need to do to reach my goals."
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