Urijah Faber is one of the top stars in mixed martial arts and one of the top featherweights in the WEC. I recently spoke with Faber, and here’s our conversation.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What would you be doing if you weren’t a fighter?
Urijah Faber: I’d probably have some sort of small business or something, or else be a teacher, and still work out a lot. I think I would be involved in some wrestling.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you like most about being a professional athlete?
Urijah Faber: The thing I like most is the lifestyle, working out all day. It’s pretty healthy. I like the challenge of it and I like the camaraderie of it, the team thing. I like a lot of guys I train with, and basically just the lifestyle in general.
MMA Stomping Grounds: If you could change one thing about the sport, what would it be?
Urijah Faber: That the fighters would get paid more. It’s a difficult sport and if you look at other combat sports, like boxing, and other professional sports like basketball, football and baseball, the pay scale is way low for us right now. It’s a new sport and that will be changing, I look forward to it changing, but it’s not where it needs to be right now.
MMA Stomping Grounds: The sport has grown a lot. What part of the growth has you the most excited?
Urijah Faber: I’m just excited about the knowledge people are getting about it. People are becoming educated and becoming true fans of the sport. It’s growing so fast and it won’t be long before it takes over the world as the No. 1 sport. You can see how much it’s grown in the last few years and I imagine it’s going to get better and better.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think is the biggest misconception casual fans have about the sport?
Urijah Faber: I feel like there’s still some misconceptions about the fighters on a personal level, and kind of what goes into it. Some people still see it as really brutal and a street-fight type of thing, but you’ve got an Olympic-level athlete who is a high-level, high-disciplined, highly technical fighter from kickboxing, judo, wrestling and sometimes I think people overlook the fact that fighters are extremely technical. It’s just like the NBA, the NFL or anything else -- there are a lot of things that need to happen to really become a good fighter. I don’t know if people understand that.
MMA Stomping Grounds: When did you first start to realize you were becoming a star in this sport?
Urijah Faber: I don’t know exactly when it happened, but when Zuffa took over WEC and they started playing my fights on Versus a bit I felt it more. I was at the right place in the right time to be at the forefront of a new station and new organization and a newly sponsored event. It happened pretty fast.
MMA Stomping Grounds: Have you ever had any weird fans along the way?
Urijah Faber: I feel really lucky about being able to live a life that revolves around my passion. People are really supportive and I‘ve got some great fans.
There’s some weirdos out there, a few stalker fans out there, but nothing I can’t handle. People are just going out of their way to hunt down information and get a hold of me. People call obsessively or things like that.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s the best part of your job?
Urijah Faber: The best part is I don’t even really feel like I’m working. I’ve kind of lived the same lifestyle I’ve had since I was a little kid. Basically, working out and hanging out with my friends and competing. I feel like a really lucky guy. I haven’t had to do anything I don’t want to do in life, and that’s not the case with everyone.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What advice would you give a young fighter who wants to become a pro someday?
Urijah Faber: I’d tell them that they really need to be consistent and surround themselves with the right environment and the right trainers. You can be the toughest guy in the world and if you’re not plugging away at the right techniques and living a lifestyle dedicated to the sport -- if it’s not your life -- you won’t succeed.
MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s one thing people don’t know about you that you think they should know?
Urijah Faber: I guess that I’m really close with my family, my immediate family. My mom, dad, brother, sister, uncles. I’m kind of -- I guess you could say -- a momma’s boy.