Former UC Davis wrestler Urijah Faber will compete against featherweight champion Mike Brown for the second time in a World Extreme Cage fighting event on June 7.
“Brown vs. Faber II” has been dubbed the greatest featherweight bout in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) history.
“This is definitely the biggest fight we’ve ever done in our 10-year history,” said WEC General Manager and Founder Reed Harris. “It’s not often that you get to see the No. 1 and No. 2 fighters in the world compete in the same weight division.”
Brown currently has an MMA record of 21-4. He also holds a wrestling background, and is currently ranked as the No. 1 MMA featherweight by MMA Weekly and Sherdog. Faber is ranked No. 2.
Known as “The California Kid,” Faber graduated from UC Davis in 2003 with a bachelors of science degree in human development.
He competed for the wrestling team in the 133-pound weight class.
“He came to the team his freshman year as a walk on,” said coach Lennie Zalesky, “but by the time he graduated, he was one of the school’s first two-time NCAA Division I national qualifiers.”
After graduation, Faber went on to be an assistant coach for UC Davis during the 2003-2004 season. He then left the university to pursue a MMA career. He currently holds an impressive overall record of 22-2.
“UC Davis was a great experience for me,” Faber said. “Not only the curriculum, but the people you meet and starting and finishing something like that. Balancing a social life and school and athletics and a job really prepared me for the real world.”
Faber and Brown first fought in November of 2008, where Brown pulled a major upset by recording a technical knockout over then undisputed champion Faber in the first round.
“It’s not how I taught him,” said Zalesky. “I think he just got out of position. Brown’s tough and a little bigger, I think, but Faber’s quick, explosive, very aggressive. How quickly he can get behind people and cut corners is phenomenal.”
Faber rebounded from his loss to Brown by submitting former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver 94 seconds into the first round with a guillotine choke.
“I feel good,” Faber said. “This is the strongest I’ve been. I want to win bad. This is my hometown and I’m real excited for this fight.”
Faber has been fighting in the WEC since 2006, and currently holds a 7-1 record in the venue. He earned the WEC Featherweight Championship in March of 2006, and successfully defended it in five times before losing to Brown.
“Last time I fought him, I wasn’t in the best position,” Faber said. “I just made a small mistake. I’m going to be a little cautious and aware this time around.”
In preparation for the fight, Faber has incorporated additional modified Olympic lifts into his exercise routine three times a week, added a boxing instructor and placed additional emphasis on his stand up game.
“For the most part,” Faber said, “my training regime has remained unchanged.”
Faber hopes, though, that the outcome will change when he faces Brown again next Sunday.
“Faber is one of our longest-standing, most recognizable fighters,” Harris said. “He’s got what we call the ‘it’ factor – he turns it on and his fights are always exciting. The last time he fought Brown [at Arco Arena], we sold out. We’re already tracking better sales. It’s going to be a war.”
“I’d like to see a good match,” Zalesky said. “I’d like to see Faber go out there, get a choke hold and have the whole place go nuts.”
CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached at email@example.com.