October 26, 2016

UFC on FOX 22: Urijah Faber, A UFC Hall of Famer If There Ever Was One

By Raphael Garcia

The debate over who the greatest fighter of all time is will rage continuously throughout the MMA fan base, as there’s a long list of fighters who were influential in their contributions to the sport both inside and outside of the cage. On Monday, news broke that one of them – Urijah Faber – will step away from the sport after his bout against Brad Pickett at UFC on Fox 22. Faber’s a name that deserves recognition in the sport and fighter that deserves a place in any type of MMA Hall of Fame.

After 13 years of professional competition, many fans remember Faber for one glaring aspect of his resume: he’s never been able to grasp the UFC title. In fact, dating back to 2008 he is 0-7 in title bouts within WEC and the UFC. To those fans, that’s a reason to denigrate what Faber has done in his career. However, the fact remains that Faber is one of the most important men to ever compete at 155 pounds or under.

In combat sports, heavyweights are always the attention-grabbers. Promotions push the big men to the moon in hopes that fans tune in every time they compete. Faber is one of the fighters who turned that notion around for mixed martial artists. When WEC became the premier organization for lighter weight fighters, Faber was the face of the organization. Not only did he perform very well in the blue cage; he had the looks and personality to become a star outside of it. Faber is one of the first MMA competitors to secure major endorsement deals, appearing in commercials with the likes of Kenny Powers and being featured in other national campaigns.

The platform that Faber was able to establish helped pave the way for a number of other fighters. Men such as Chad Mendes, Joseph Benavidez, and TJ Dillashaw grew in fame through their association with Faber’s Team Alpha Male camp in Sacramento, California. Opponents such as Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz gained notoriety by being the foil to Faber at various points throughout their careers.

After winning the WEC Featherweight Championship in 2006, Faber held that title for two years before dropping it to Mike Thomas Brown. His 2008 fight against Jens Pulver not only helped attract fans to WEC, it als drew attention to the fact that lighter athletes could put on action-packed fights that show the full breadth of mixed martial arts. Faber was a fringe star before that night, but his performance at WEC 34 solidified his name as an attraction in the sport.

To many, Urijah Faber will always be viewed as a fighter that consistently fell short when the lights shined the brightest. Most of that is due to the fact that they missed the early portion of his career when he wrecked shop on nearly every the opponent who stood across the cage from him. His presence helped pave the way for fan favorites in the lighter weight classes like Frankie Edgar, Dominick Cruz, and Conor McGregor. When he hangs up his gloves in December, he deserves the accolades that come with a great career: placement in the UFC Hall of Fame, as well as any other halls of fame across the sport of MMA.

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