When you've been in the sport as long as Urijah Faber has fights are naturally going to start to carry a different meaning than they once did. Where, once, the idea of a title fight was all the bait needed to keep a fighter in the game, eventually details such as finances, future bouts, and advertising and television deals start to encroach. As fighters get older they simply get more comfortable and more entrenched in the details of what life as a fighter really entails... at least that's what it sounds like happened to Uriah Faber as he described his thoughts going in to his first fight against Renan Barao to Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour (transcription via Dave Doyle of MMA Fighting).
Overeem's new Thai training camp
The former Strikeforce and K-1 Heavyweight champ has been a bit of a bust in the UFC. His manager was on the MMA Hour and talked about the Dutchman's new training camp in Thailand.
"Probably the least excited I'd ever been for a fight," Faber said of UFC 149. "There's a lot more to it that I really care to go into, it was at the end of a rough year for me with my sister and some other things in my family, so I was looking forward to after big fight on July 4th to be able to contribute more to my family, monetary value of my fight changed dramatically, the size and the meaning of the fight was so much different.
"I had put four months not fighting to being on biggest card of the year to fighting Dominick Cruz in Las Vegas," Faber continued, "Then they pulled me out and put me on this other card no one cared about, and the supporting cast as not there for that fight as well, it was a pay-per-view and I realized after that fight, I can't even think about that."
It's a position that Faber says changed after that loss, and while a whole set of circumstances accompanied it (Duane Ludwig coaching at Team Alpha Male, a slightly lower caliber of opponent) Faber certainly looked like a rejuvenated fighter over the last year. He's gone 4-0 since that loss, with three of his four wins coming by way of stoppage. His most recent victory, over recent interim title challenger Michael McDonald, cemented his place as the sole challenger atop the 135 lb division. Of course this isn't all to say that his most recent title shot was 100% good news. Faber talked about his (often poor) relationship with Dominick Cruz as well and mentioned that Cruz reached out to him after the fight announcement.
"He just said that he was pretty heartbroken by all his injuries and that I had a great year, and he'll be back, may the best man win," Faber said. "I was going to reach out to him but he got to me first. I said heal up so we can fight, man. And I said yeah, I will."
Not, perhaps, how anyone wants to gain an opportunity, but nonetheless it's an opportunity that Faber has earned. So, what do you think? Will an improved camp and a new mindset result in a different fight at UFC 169? Is Barao going to continue demolishing all those who dare challenge his position atop the bantamweight division? And what of Cruz, will he ever come back?
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