The hurly-burly of MMA doesn't suffer half-assed commitment. Often the difference between those who rise to the top and stay for a while and those who sink before they ever win is dogged determination. For some, the sheer monotony of full-contact sports day after day is mind and body numbing. For others, like Urijah Faberone of the most jacked 145-pounders you'll ever come acrossthat relentless life is the manna that feeds their potential greatness.
Faber, a former Division I college wrestler and current WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) Featherweight Champion, trains with a fierceness few can match. In 21 fights, he's lost only once, to Tyson Griffin in 2005. Since that time he has won 12 in row, all by TKO or submission. On June 1 he will make arguably his toughest defense when he faces off with former UFC lightweight champion Jens 'Lil Evil' Pulver at the ARCO Area in Sacramento. We spoke with Faber a few weeks ago as he prepared for what could very well be the fight of the year.
Birthdate: May 14, 1979
Birthplace: Isla Vista, California
Current Residence: Sacramento, CA
Accomplishments: WEC Featherweight Champion
On the Web: www.urijahfaber.com
M&F: What do expect from Jens in this fight?
Urijah Faber: He's a veteran of the sport and I'm expecting a war. He's got some deadly hands and he's also a wrestler. I expect him to be well prepared. This should be a hard battle.
M&F: Do you consider this one of your toughest fights to date?
UF: It's definitely one of my toughest challenges. He's a former UFC champ.
M&F: Have you felt the need to change how you train for this fight?
UF: Not really. I have some idea of where I want the fight to go. More than anything I've been working on getting an eye for sparring with left-handers, but other than that, everything stays the same.
M&F: How long do you train for a fight?
UF: I'm training all the time. It's just my lifestyle. It obviously gets more intense or less intense the closer or farther out I am from a fight, but I'm always training in mixed martial arts.
M&F: What's a typical week like for you?
UF: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I have a team MMA practice in the morning from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday and Wednesday I have a team Muay Thai at 2 o'clock. Tuesday and Friday I do sparring, just boxing. I jump into jujitsu classes or work on my individual stuff, jogging or running, at other times. There's a lot of stuff you do on your own depending on how you feel.
M&F: How many hours a day do you train?
UF: Closer to the fight, probably four. But anywhere from four to six.
M&F: Five days a week?
UF: Six days a week, sometimes seven. I'll take a day off when I feel like I need it. It's not a set day off.
M&F: I read that when you were growing up you were on pretty strict diet.
UF: It was a homeopathic background. It was definitely a lot different from the typical American, but it wasn't really a strict dietit was a clean lifestyle. It wasn't like everything was organic or I was a strict vegetarian. We just tried to eat healthy and use homeopathic healing.
M&F: Do you still follow that approach?
UF: Yeah. I was taught to crave a healthy diet and to live healthy. I feel pretty lucky to have been brought up in that kind of environment.
M&F: Do you use supplements?
UF: Lately I've been having trouble keeping my weight up, so I've been getting extra calories with a shake supplement. I put soy milk, peanut butter and bananas in it.
M&F: How many calories do you consume a day?
UF: I try to get about 5000.
M&F: Do you weight train?
UF: I have sporadically throughout my life, but I don't right now. Strength really hasn't been a problem for me.
M&F: Was wrestling the first contact sport you were into?
UF: No. I played football and some roller hockey, and I did a little bit of karate. I started wrestling in the 7th and 8th grade, and really took it seriously when I got into high school. I developed the most as a wrestler in college, Division I at UC Davis. I was the all-time win leader there.
M&F: When did you start integrating all the other MMA skills into your fight game?
UF: Two months after I graduated from college, I started leaning Jiu-jitsu and took my first fight a month and a week after that.
M&F: How did you win your first fight?
UF: I submitted the guy in about 45 seconds. The next fight I won by TKO. I just threw punches the whole time. I wanted to get some punching in because it wasn't my strongest thing at the time.
M&F: Of all the new MMA skills you've learned, which is the most satisfying to you?
UF: I like boxing and jujitsu, but, really, putting it all together is my favorite. I enjoy the sport as a whole.
M&F: In the fights I've seen, what really sticks out are your elbows. Why are they so wicked?
UF: It's understanding that you can use them. Being a kid who grew up with a mom who was telling me that I couldn't hurt people, it seems like such a taboo thing to do. Once I got over the idea that I couldn't do it, it just kind of came naturally to me. Throwing elbows is dangerous and you learn really quickly that it's effective.
M&F: Does your mother like the fact that you're an MMA fighter?
UF: She's coming around a little bit. She doesn't enjoy that fact that there's the threat that I can be punched and kicked, but she loves the fact that I'm doing something I love and I'm succeeding at it.