Can you go straight from Califronia Kid to Califronia Retiree? It seems like a few stages would have to be skipped in the middle. However, that's the dilemma that Urijah Faber continues to battle as he considers making his exit from MMA. The Team Alpha Male star and former WEC champion is currently scheduled to face Jimmie Rivera at UFC 203, but after his last bout, at UFC 199, he sounded ready to call the whole thing quits. In a recent interview with Submission Radio, Faber talked about the decision making process that eventually made him reconsider and led him to jumping right back into the Octagon:
"Joe Rogan asked (me) those questions," Faber responded when asked about his comments following UFC 199, "and I think what kind of spurred it, was me saying I've had such a great time doing what I'm doing. Which is so true, I love what I do. And it's funny, cause I have a whole gym full of folks that are coming in for general health and challenging themselves daily. And you see people that whatever they're doing, they're trying their hardest at. And I've got a buddie that did a hundred-mile marathon, and I got other people that do the CrossFit challenges and people that do these taxing things.
"And for me, I love the fight game and I'm still going to be training just as hard, and I'm ranked number two in the world. So it's what I do for fun, it's what I do to make money, it's an example that I'm setting for the other guys. And so I'm not quite done yet. And if I'm not done, I'm gonna fight right away. There's no reason to just sit around and think when you already know the answer. I'm not done, so let's get another fight right away, and I want a tough top guy. And this kid (Jimmy) Rivera is very tough, man. I know a couple of guys that were ranked above him (that) turned the fight down. And I'm not about trying to protect anything, I'm about challenging myself and fighting whoever they throw at me. And they thought this would be a tough match up and I accepted."
And while he's definitely not going to be retiring before UFC 203, that's not to say that his next fight may not be his last. Faber made it clear that he's still looking at the potential end of his fighting career. But, for a fighter with his history of success and his position in the rankings, it's hard not to look at retirement as lost opportunity:
"Maybe," Faber said of the possibility that his fight with Rivera would be his last. "I've thought about finishing up my career a bunch of different times. So I don't think that a win or a loss is the defining factor on that. I look at guys and had a good talk with Dan Henderson, and he had like a five-fight losing streak and he kept on going. I don't wanna fight into my late 40's, but I think he's up next for the title shot right now with the big win that he had over a tough guy. So this is a very strange sport.
"Everybody tries to figure it out. It comes down to, there's opportunities - and if you take yourself out of the equation, you're not there for the opportunities. If you're in the equation, you're there for the opportunities. I mean, I was very close to having a fight with Conor McGregor, the one that Nate Diaz got. Dana White called me and it was close to happening. Conor ended up wanting to fight Nate Diaz and it didn't happen, but that was at 155 pounds and it was against one for the fastest growing, if not the biggest star, in the sport. So I know my skillset's there. It's taken me a long time to get to where I am right now. A win or a loss has never been a defining thing for me or a decision-making thing for me. I'm the type of guy that follows my heart, my passion and tries to be as realistic as possible.
"So we'll see. Maybe it's the last one, win or lose. Maybe I do a couple more. Maybe I end up getting a last-minute call to fight Conor McGregor or put another fight against Cruz. Who knows what's going to happen? I know there's a fight in Sacramento in December and I've had my eye on that. So yeah, never wanna say exactly what's gonna happen cause you never know."
And as for McGregor's future, Faber's Magic 8-Ball seems to be coming up with "outlook not so good" as he anticipates that McGregor is going to lose again when he rematches Nate Diaz at UFC 202:
"I think Diaz is gonna get him," Faber predicted. "I mean, as far as what makes Conor so great, he's still gonna bring that to the table. He's a heavy puncher, he's got incredible confidence - we'll see if that's broken or not - he's an athletic guy, he's good at timing, etc. The things that make Nate Diaz great, is that he's put in hours and hours and years and years and years and years growing as a Mixed Martial Artist. And I think Conor has done the same, but not to the same level.
"He's not as accomplished on the ground, he hasn't gone with the wrestlers, and like Nate has been saying, he's been boxing with guys like Andre Ward and high-level boxers that are some of the best in the world for a long time. So it's not like a clear slate (that) Nate's gonna win or Conor's gonna win, but I think the odds are a little bit in Diaz's favour cause he can take a punch and he has a high output, just like Conor does, and he's got a better skillset on the ground. But you know, you don't count Conor out. You saw what he did to Aldo and what he's done to other top-level guys. But my money's on Nate, and I think the odds - I don't know how the odds started, but odds are affected by how people bet, and Conor's got a loyal fan base that will bet cash on him. So I don't know if he's the betting favourite now verses when the odds came out."
UFC 203 goes down on September 10th in Cleveland, Ohio. The card will be headlined by a heavyweight title bout between champion Stipe Miocic and contender Alistair Overeem. The card has yet to be finalized, so it's not clear yet whether Faber vs. Rivera will be on PPV or perhaps a featured prelim on the undercard. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and updates.