In MMA, fighter retirements rarely stick for good, especially the first time. So when UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber announced he was hanging up the gloves at the end of 2016, many suspected the still spry bantamweight might eventually eventually make his way back into the Octagon once again. And it turns out, Faber himself is keeping that option ready, perhaps at a moment’s notice.
Speaking with Submission Radio over the weekend, Faber revealed that despite retiring from competition in December of 2016, he never left the USADA drug testing pool, meaning that if he ever wanted to fight again he could do so immediately instead.
“Look, I spent a lot of time getting really great at fighting and I’m able-bodied and healthy,” said Faber. “I train just as much or more than some of the guys that are active but it’s not my goal [to come back], necessarily. It’s just the habits that I’ve created in my life. I would say I’m always open to entertain any business opportunity or offer, and I love to do things that I love to do, so I’m not gonna cut anything out. I still get tested from USADA just because I’ve never taken drugs in my life so I don’t really care about that.
“It’s well worth it. The difference is, if there was a big opportunity and someone wanted you to fight and it sounded like a good idea, I wouldn’t want to wait four months to get cleared when I’m not doing drugs anyway. So I’ll take one for the team on a 6 a.m. wake-up call. I’ve got it down pat anyways. I pretty much sleep through the whole thing aside from when I’m giving the urine sample.”
Faber retired after winning a unanimous decision over Brad Pickett on December 16, 2016 at UFC on FOX 22. Per USADA’s website, Faber was tested three times in 2017, twice in the first quarter of the year and once in the second quarter. He has not been tested so far in 2018 but since he has remained enrolled in the program, Faber is eligible to return to competition immediately instead of having to wait the mandatory four month testing re-entry period for retired fighters. So Faber says if he’s offered “a big opportunity” is ready to jump at it, even though he doesn’t see anything at the moment that looks interesting.
“Not necessarily,” said Faber. “I don’t see any big opportunities but you never know with these guys. Like I said, I’ve gotten some crazy calls throughout the years. . . You never know when that kind of stuff happens.”
One of those “big opportunities” that could manifest itself would be a grudge match fight with current bantamweight champion and former Faber teammate, T.J. Dillashaw. But before Faber could face Dillashaw he says he’d like to see his protege Cody Garbrandt get a rematch, an opportunity denied him when Dillashaw turned down a short-notice fight against him in part because of the birth of his new child and the lack of time to prepare to defend his title. Dillashaw caught flak from some for his decision but Faber admits the champ was entitled to say no, considering the circumstances.
“People can say no to whatever they want,” said Faber. “Absolutely, he’s entitled to say no. You’re not required to fight and I’m sure it’s a very exciting time, having a baby. Congratulations to you guys. It’s different strokes for different folks.”
The other main reason Dillashaw opted not to rematch Garbrandt at UFC 222 was that he has been attempting to get drop down to 125 pounds to challenge flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson for his title. It’s a superfight the UFC has shown some interest in book for the summer and one Faber even agrees has some potential, though he’d prefer it if Dillashaw defended the title he just won instead.
“T.J., for the longest time, he was having trouble putting weight on,” said Faber. “He was 143 when he first in the gym and it was a struggle to get bigger and we talked about going down to 125 for a long time. I’m interested to see it I guess but I’m more interested in the 135-pound division as a whole. I’d like to see him defending and of course I’d like to see Cody get that rematch or some of the other guys that are up-and-coming in the division.”
And if Dillashaw does drop down? How does Faber think his former pupil would fair against the greatest fighter of all time?
“I would probably lean towards T.J., just because I remember what happened with Dominick Cruz when he fought T.J. and there was a little bit of wrestling involved. T.J.’s actually a Division I wrestler, a very good wrestler. It would be a close fight, absolutely. It could go either way, but my insight tells me he would get the win.”