In 2012, Urijah Faber failed to capture the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) interim bantamweight title when he ran into a red-hot Renan Barao at UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
But going into his bout against the Brazilian, Faber admits his mind wasn't in the right place after a roller-coaster year that saw him deal with personal issues outside of the Octagon including a devastating car wreck, which severely injured his sister.
Appearing on The MMA Hour, "The California Kid" talked about his loss to Barao and his mindset going into the bout.
"Probably the least excited I'd ever been for a fight. There's a lot more to it than I really care to go into, it was at the end of a rough year for me with my sister and some other things in my family, so I was looking forward to after big fight on July 4th, to be able to contribute more to my family. Monetary value of my fight changed dramatically, the size and the meaning of the fight was so much different. I had put four months not fighting to being on biggest card of the year to fighting Dominick Cruz in Las Vegas. Then they pulled me out and put me on this other card no one cared about, and the supporting cast was not there for that fight as well, it was a pay-per-view and I realized after that fight, I can't even think about that."
Fast forward 17 months later, and Faber finds himself on the verge of finally capturing UFC gold against the same man who crushed his title hopes in Canada as he battles Renan in the main event of UFC 169 on Feb. 1, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey.
A fight that came to be after former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz was forced out of the title unification fight against Barao with a groin tear.
Since their first encounter, Faber has reeled off four consecutive stoppage victories and Barao, well, he's yet to lose inside the Octagon (6-0) and now has two title defenses to his credit and is the sole owner of the 135-pound belt.
As Faber declares, that just means the scrappy Brazilian is only getting better.
"He's definitely better. I don't see things tremendously different. But he's getting more confidence, more experience, he's the type of guy, he's a world champion. Being the guy with that type of mentality of training and getting better, has to get better a little or he's getting worse. No one's beat him, so I'd say he's getting better."
Faber breaks down his keys to victory:
"I think biggest key is not letting him control the fight and the speed and the distance of the fight. He did a really great job last time controlling pace of the fight. He was able to slow me down, he's a fast-paced fighter, he was able to control distance and reach and his weapons."
For Faber, his new-found gracious attitude is one of the reasons his upcoming title fight will be different from his previous bouts.
" I have to have an attitude of gratitude and not miss opportunities. And that's what my 2013 was about, and that was my biggest difference with the rest of my fights you've seen since then and the one you're going to see on Feb. 1."
How about it Maniacs, will this be Faber's breakthrough moment that sees him getting over the hump after failing to capture UFC gold on two separate occasions?