Following a gritty performance against WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown at WEC 41 this past weekend, Urijah Faber is still hungry to get back inside the cage.
In a fight that saw "The California Kid" lose weapon after weapon — first he broke his right hand, followed by what appeared to be an injury to his left — Faber refused to throw in the towel, opting to throw elbows and kicks instead.
We had the chance to catch up with the former champion the day after the fight. While a loss never feels good — nor does a broken hand — Faber’s positive spirit remained intact.
"First, I appreciate all the support from fans. I tried to do my thing out there. I burst out of the gates, and after my hand broke, I just tried to gut it out. I knew my hand was broken right away. I put it down by my hip, said fuck it, and started throwing kicks."
One of those kicks led to a Faber slip, resulting in the fighter taking himself down. Brown quickly capitalized.
"Soon after I slipped and fell. On the ground I realized I wouldn’t be able to grapple with my hand. After the round I told my Muay Thai instructor that my hand was broken, and he said, ‘Shut up … you’re a champion in your heart,’ which got my mind back in the fight. From there, I was in survival mode."
It’s difficult to gauge what might have been.
Prior to the hand injuries, Faber looked strong in the first round. His overconfidence and lack of caution from their first outing at WEC 36 was noticeably absent. Faber instead bobbed, weaved, changed levels and otherwise made for a difficult target for Brown to lock onto. It was more or less Faber’s speed vs. Brown’s power punching.
"Not to take away from Brown, but I think the first round was how the rest of the fight would have gone. It was impossible for him to hit me. I definitely think I was headed toward victory. You can’t have something go wrong in a title fight though. It’s unfortunate -- I don’t like to lose, but I will be back."
Faber even landed an overhand right that seemed to rock Brown, but it also might have been the punch that broke the former champion’s hand, sealing his fate. After that, it was all short elbows and kicks. By the end of the fight, Faber’s hands, especially his right, were virtually useless. When the opportunity presented itself to sink in a guillotine choke with just two minutes remaining in the fight, Faber went for it, but found futility instead.
"I watched the fight today and was surprised. I didn’t realize I dished out that much damage. In regard to the submission attempt, I couldn’t finish the move, man. I had it deep too but I didn’t have the hand strength to hold on and finish it."
Now winless (0-2) against the champ, Faber is looking forward to his next opportunity to showcase his skills. But he’ll first have to heal up his injuries. And at least part of this is new territory for the former number one ranked featherweight in the world.
"I’m having surgery tomorrow. I am not sure how exactly many months I will be out because I have never had my hand broken before. They gave me morphine in the ambulance, and I was pissed because I don’t take medicine. Other than that, I am going to do everything I can to heal fast and get back in the cage."
In the meantime, rising talent Jose Aldo is reportedly next in line for a title shot against Brown — a match up Faber thinks is well-deserved.
"I think Jose Aldo should get the next title shot. I think he earned it. Aldo is dangerous. He will be a tough match up for Brown. It will be speed vs. power in that one. Aldo is a great striker, an expert with his Muay Thai. Mike Brown is really good at everything though. It will be a great fight."
So what’s next up for Faber? Does he expect to get an immediate rematch, or will he have to earn it?
"I plan on healing and I would like to come back, fight one fight, and get back in there for another title fight. I don’t make the rules, but I think I proved that I was ready to compete last night and am one of the top fighters in the world. Brown is number one, and I am number two, for now."
Faber will need a few months to heal himself, but don’t be surprised to see him back in action before 2009 is over. The big question will be how many fights he needs to take before getting a second rematch with Brown. What do you think, maniacs?
In the meantime, you can check out Faber’s Web site for updates on his return right here. Here are some videos from the day after his fight, too: