On Dec. 19, 2016, Urijah “The California Kid” Faber will compete in his final fight in the UFC and the final fight in his long MMA career. Faber will be in his hometown of Sacramento, Calif., for UFC on Fox 22 at the brand new Golden 1 Center. His final fight will come against England’s own Brad Pickett.
As Faber prepares to hang it up, the longtime leader of Team Alpha Male, based out of Sacramento, has not only achieved personal success in his career, but he chose to make his career about more than just himself. Just alone at UFC on Fox 22, Faber will have three teammates fighting for their own bragging rights. Paige VanZant takes on Michelle Waterson in the main event, Hector Sandoval fights Fredy Serrano, and Josh Emmett takes on Scott Holtzman.
Any talk about the career of Faber must include his future inside the UFC’s Hall of Fame. While he was unsuccessful in capturing UFC gold in four attempts, his career accomplishments cannot be overlooked. The former WEC featherweight champion had five successful title defenses, setting the record for most consecutive title defenses inside the WEC. He was just as successful in his time as the bantamweight champion in King of the Cage.
Faber may never be able to check off the “UFC Champion” box on his career resume, but he proved that there is more to a Hall-of-Fame career than just winning a title inside the Octagon. What he’s done as a fighter in the featherweight and bantamweight divisions is worthy of a spot in the Hall of Fame, and his work with fighters like current teammates Cody Garbrandt and Paige VanZant and former stablemate T.J. Dillashaw proves just how worthy Faber is to mixed martial arts.
After Faber was unsuccessful in defeating Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight championship in their trilogy fight, it seemed as if the end could be near. Team Alpha Male wasn’t going away, though. Just as Faber’s career was nearing the end, Garbrandt’s career was hitting its rise. Faber was behind “No Love” every second, building up his teammate.
The rivalry between Cruz’s Alliance MMA and Faber’s Team Alpha Male contributed to the UFC’s decision to set up a bantamweight title fight between Cruz and Garbrandt at UFC 207 in Las Vegas. The rivalry, even with Faber set to be retired when the title fight takes place, lives on.
That’s who and what “The California Kid” has always been about. MMA has been and always will be bigger than one singular person, and when you think of Faber, plenty of positives come to mind. There was his success in the WEC. He is a highly respected UFC veteran. He is the man in charge of Team Alpha Male, which is building and growing some of the UFC’s most recognizable names and talents.
When Faber announced his retirement on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, he talked about not having the emotional “rise or fall.” He said he still loves what he’s doing, but now he’ll just look to stay involved in other ways.
Even as Faber announced his retirement, he couldn’t stop himself from mentioning the young and rising talent of Team Alpha Male.
When you look back on “The California Kid’s” career, remember that he did win the big one — it just happened when the big one had the letters W-E-C on the belt. He successfully defended it multiple times, too. He put on great performances inside the UFC. He never made it about himself, either. That’s why there is plenty of young Team Alpha Male talent rising inside the UFC. And that’s why Urijah Faber is a true legend of the sport.