Faber makes statement at bantam

Story by Anthony Springer, Jr.
Photos by Chris Cozzone

“I think this was one of the best nights of fighting we’ve ever done.”

With a list of high quality events on the promotion’s resume, WEC General Manager Reed Harris looked like a new father while praising his fighters. And on the night the UFC’s sister organization held its second to last event, the organization’s biggest star—Urijah Faber—shined the brightest.

Faber bested the always tough Takeya Mizugaki via rear naked choke in the opening frame of the night’s main event. The finish was a fitting end to Faber’s storied career with the organization.

“I wanted to come out and finish and make a statement and I think I did,” Faber said. “It felt good.”

Despite the strong finish, Faber admitted some concern when Mizugaki went limp from the choke.

“I knew he was going out but I didn’t know he was that bad,” Faber recalled. “It was kinda scary on top of him. You don’t want to do that to someone. I saw the time when I started choking him, but I knew I had to get it in there.”

“The California Kid” admitted feeling better and stronger at his new home of 135 pounds. Throughout the fight, he bullied Mizugaki, a sharp difference from the struggles he had at featherweight with larger fighters.

“My grappling has been on a different level. I’m just stronger and leaner and faster. Things are making sense…I’m a lot better off at the lighter weight.”

Faber was at a loss for words to break down the finish in detail.

“I don’t really think very much in there, I can’t remember much of the fight.”

With his final WEC fight behind him, Faber is looking at greener pastures with the UFC. Though he hasn’t formally been approached, the former champ is not opposed to a coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter.

“It hasn’t been a goal of mine, but I think it’ll help me reach some of my other goals. That’d be awesome.”

The 800 pound gorilla in the room was the future UFC bantamweight title. Frequent training partner Scott Jorgensen has a date with destiny in December when he faces current champion Dominick Cruz. Though it’s often taboo for teammates or training partners to square off, Faber didn’t hesitate to say that he’d go through Jorgensen to get another title around his waist.

“We have a good relationship,” Faber said of Jorgensen, “but our relationship is different than [fellow Team Alpha Male teammates] Joseph [Benavidez] and Chad [Mendes] and I. Scotty and I are competitors on a different levels. We’ve trained a bunch together.

“I’d rather fight Dominick, but I’m rooting for Scott. For him and I to fight on a UFC card would be amazing. We’d beat the crap out of each other, shake hands before and hang out after. If we don’t cross paths that’d be even better for me.”

Sounds like “The California Kid” has it all figured out.

 

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