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Urijah Faber: The California Kid is Still Golden

“Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.” – Benjamin FranklinToughness isn‘t measured in tattoo ink, hair dye, or vulgar language. It can‘t even be gauged by muscle mass or mean scowls. Every fighter that steps into the UFC‘s cage is physically tough, but the depths of their mental toughness can only be empirically equated when a fighter overcomes adversity inside the Octagon. The truly tough fighter is the one who continues to come forward and fight no matter how little time is left or how exhausted they are or how battered their body has become. In that definition, not many will ever be able to hold a candle to Urijah Faber.At UFC 149, “The California Kid” battled for 25 minutes with Renan Barao in a losing effort for the interim UFC bantamweight championship. It was a conscious striker‘s duel, where Barao was able to stay just out of Faber‘s reach and keep the fight out of the scrambles where the Californian thrives. The near decade younger Barao managed to shave a few miles per hour off the usually fleet-footed Faber with a knee to the body that broke a rib, which Faber didn‘t reveal until the post-fight interview. While fight fans have become accustomed to seeing Faber in title bouts, strangely enough, they‘ve become just as accustomed to seeing Faber wear his toughness on his sleeve by fighting tooth and nail despite broken hands, feet, ribs or a severely battered leg. “It’s what we’ve signed up for doing the toughest sport in the world: mixed martial arts,” reveals Faber. “It wasn’t an accident that Barao caught me with a knee in the ribs. We bounced off the cage and he caught me with a short knee in my back ribs and it broke it. I thought I did a really good job. I watched the fight again. I don’t think anyone can tell that I broke my rib. I didn’t tell my corner, I didn’t tell anyone that I knew something was up. You go into a fight with the mindset that you’re not going to let anything stop you, and that was the mindset I was in. I’ve had worse injuries, so I just did my best. I don’t attribute that to the loss at all. I still fought offensively, but Barao was very tough. It didn’t help, especially on extending myself for takedowns. Having a broken rib doesn’t help at all (laughs).”At 33 years old with an overall record of 26-6, Faber is 2-2 inside the Octagon with both losses coming in five round decisions for the bantamweight crown. Unless someone blows the dust off a Youtube video shot on a handicam of Faber fighting Tyson Griffin, then MMA fans have only see Faber on the losing end of a bout with a championship belt on the line in either the WEC or UFC. Minus the first round loss to Mike Brown back in 2008, no one has been able to literally stop Faber, whether it was Jose Aldo with his devastating leg kicks or in the rematch with Brown where Faber broke both hands and a foot and still continued to throw elbows until the final bell. To best “The California Kid,” one will need to flawlessly keep him at bay for 25 minutes because there‘s simply no quit switch in him.“I think it’s a mental game,” states Faber. “It’s a head space you get in. Everybody that is a champion knows that there are a lot of things that go into it, but one of the most important things is the mental game, being a confident guy and preparing for worst case scenarios. I don’t go into a fight thinking I hope everything goes my way and if it doesn’t I’m going to turn down and cower. In practice you experience injuries and it’s just a part of our life. I think about it as if I was on the street and someone was trying to beat me up and try to take my life or something that is important to me, would a broken rib stop me? Would a broken hand stop me? And there’s no way it would.”With or without a belt around his waist, the most prolific champion in WEC history, with five successful and consecutive title defenses, carries himself as the champ in and out of the cage. Incredibly, Faber has fought 16 times under the Zuffa banner of the UFC and the WEC, with 11 of those bouts with a title up for grabs. In the five scraps that weren‘t for a belt, he has earned a Submission of the Night bonus in four of them, and won the other by unanimous decision. Faber‘s unshakeable spot at the top of the food chain is solidified in his ability to take a loss, come back stronger, clobber his competition, and stand with his chin held high, ready to challenge the current champion again. “My ability to separate wins and losses from who I am is the key component,” renders Faber. “I know who I am. I have a lot of positive attributes, I know where I come from, I know who my friends are, I’m secure. That allows me to put my best effort out every time to try to win. I love to win. I really don’t like losing much obviously, but it doesn’t change who I am. Life is good. Whenever I get caught up wanting to complain about monetary things or a fight not going my way or something else going on, I just remember…

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