UFC Pioneer, Legend and Hall of Famer. Those are just a few words you could use to describe one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time, Uriah Faber. Uriah’s recent retirement has caused me to stop and think about the tremendous impact he’s had, not only in the UFC, but in mixed martial arts as a whole.
Making his MMA debut in November of 2003, as part of the Gladiator Challenge Promotion, Faber hit the ground running as he defeated Jay Valencia by guillotine choke at 1:22 of round 1. Shortly after, Faber would go on to win the Gladiator Challenge Bantamweight title after defeating David Velasquez by unanimous decision.
Faber’s first title defense came against Del Hawkins who he stopped in round 1 by TKO (strikes) in August of 2004. After a while of competing in the Gladiator Challenge Promotion, Faber began to compete in GC’s big brother promotion King of the Cage.
Success was not hard to come by as Faber quickly became the KOC Bantamweight Champion after defeating Eben Kaneshiro by submission, making him a dual promotion champion in only his second fight with KOC.
Of course Faber didn’t stop there as he would go on to grab hold of the World Extreme Cagefighting Championship as well after defeating Cole Escovedo in the 2nd round after a Doctor called a stop to the fight, thus holding three titles at one time.
Faber would defend his WEC featherweight championship five times, received Fight of the Night awards three times; earn KO of the Night once and Submission of the Night 4 times. He would also defend his KOC bantamweight title 5 times and earn 2013 submission of the year.
Sherdog placed Faber on the 2011 and 2013 All-Violence 1st team.
October 28, 2010 saw the merger of WEC and the UFC. WEC fighters were to compete in two new weight classes that the UFC looked to debut. Not missing a beat, Faber defeated former WEC Champion Eddie Wineland by unanimous decision in his UFC debut on March, 19, 2011 at UFC 128.
It was in this promotion, that “The California Kid” would become one of the most popular fighters on the planet.
Faber would go on to have many memorable matches and would continue a rivalry with Dominic “The Dominator” Cruz that started back at WEC 26, where Faber went on to submit Cruz by guillotine choke in the 1st round.
Faber and Cruz would square off two more times in the UFC. Headlining UFC 132 in Las Vegas, NV, Cruz and Faber’s second fight went the distance, with Cruz earning the unanimous decision victory after 5 rounds.
Cruz vs. Faber III would be the Co-Main Event of UFC 199 in Uriah’s home state of California. After 5 rounds, it was Cruz who earned the trilogy victory and successfully defended his UFC Bantamweight Title.
Faber would go 0-4 in title fights in the UFC, but always fought with heart and determination which earned him the admiration and respect from the fans that few have ever experienced.
In 2004, Faber founded Team Alpha-Male. A team now considered by many to be one of the best teams on earth. Uriah’s team Alpha-Male received the award for the top fight team at both the 2013 and 2014 MMA Awards.
Based out of his hometown of Sacramento, CA, the current roster has over 30 professional fighters who fight for more than ten MMA organizations. Alpha-Male is responsible for producing champions in the UFC, World Extreme Cagefighting and the World Series of Fighting.
The list of fighters developed at team Alpha-Male reads like a who’s who when it comes to the promotions top talent. Fighters like Joseph Benavidez, Chris Holdsworth, Chad Mendes, Paige VanZant , former Bantamweight Champion T.J. Dillashaw and Current Bantamweight Champion Cody “No Love” Garbrandt have all been part of Uriah’s team Alpha-Male at one time or another. (Who really knows what happened with Dillashaw and team Alpha-Male?)
But hey, it’s not up to us to speculate. For now I guess we can just enjoy the back and forth argument during this seasons Ultimate Fighter.
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It’s no question Uriah Faber deserves the Hall of Fame spot he has been given. With a 34-10 record over his MMA career (7KO, 19SUB, 7DEC and 1DQ). His ability and willingness to fight in the Bantamweight, Featherweight and Lightweight Divisions, and his mentoring of younger fighters, Uriah has been truly great to the sport of MMA.
He has produced great fighters, past and current champions, and surely champions of the future. There’s no doubt, the MMA world will certainly miss him.
Faber made the decision to retire prior to his final fight with Brad Pickett. Fittingly enough, his final fight in the octagon would take place in his hometown of Sacramento, CA. Uriah defeated Pickett by unanimous decision, a perfect way to end his hall of fame career.
Uriah will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on July 6, 2017, and when he is, he will be the youngest to ever do so.
The MMA world will never be the same again without “The California Kid” stepping into the octagon.
But one thing is for sure, his influence and knowledge is something we will continue to see for years to come.