The last two weekends have not been the best of times for the sport of mixed martial arts.
BJ Penn and Gegard Mousasi, both of whom were thought to be the clear-cut top fighters in their respective divisions, lost their belts in uninspiring performances. Anderson Silva, thought by many to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, mocked his opponent and sport in an underwhelming victory. Finally, everyone knows about the debacle at Strikeforce: Nashville between Jason Miller and Team Cesar Gracie.
The sport really needs a person and event to help showcase all that is wonderful about it. Enter Urijah Faber and the WEC's first pay-per-view show, WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber.
Faber is one of the most recognizable names and faces in the sport, and he's the face of World Extreme Cagefighting. He'll face Jose Aldo this Saturday, trying to regain the featherweight title he lost 18 months ago to Mike Brown.
Recently, Faber sat down with Bleacher Report to discuss his fight with Aldo, his thoughts on the WEC's venture into pay-per-view, and how his lifestyle allows him to achieve great things in the sport.
"Jose is a tough, bad dude," Faber said when asked about the WEC Featherweight champion. "He's a young phenom that some people think is unstoppable, and I'm the big-star, former champion trying to make my was back to the title. He's a fast guy, but I'm a fast guy as well."
Aldo may be the best striker in the world at 145 pounds, and Faber knows all about the dangers he poses. However, the former champion feels his own skills are substantial enough to offset what Aldo brings to the table.
"His biggest weapons are his kicks," Faber explained about his opponent. "His kicks and the knees he throws are outstanding and accurate. He uses them a lot of different ways. I've seen him put guys down with head kicks and set other guys up with low kicks."
"But I've done a lot of training with my Muay Thai trainer. I'm strong too. He's a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but my pedigree of wrestling along with my jiu-jitsu is at the top of its game. I feel his stand-up weapons are his best tool, but I think I can match him there, and then beat him with my in-between game."
Faber has been with the WEC for a little over four years, and he's gone from a relative unknown to a superstar in the sport. One might think that would be overwhelming for a person to deal with, but Faber's friends and family help keep him grounded.
"Yeah, it's crazy how everything has blown up the way it has," Faber replied in response to his personal popularity and the expansion of the WEC to pay-per-view. "It's a huge honor to be in the main event of the first pay-per-view for the company, and I'm sure Jose feels the same way."
"I've always envisioned on being at the top of the sport, and this is the next step for that. It's pretty cool for the company to put their eggs in our basket and believe in us like they do. We'll go out there, put on the best show we can, and hopefully it's a fight that will be talked about for a long time."
When asked if this was the biggest fight in WEC history, Faber left no doubt in his answer.
"I absolutely think this is the biggest fight in our history. This sport grows so much every year, and this is the next logical step. We each have the reputation of being exciting, and fighting for the world championship is as big as it can get."
It's no secret about the holistic lifestyle that Faber leads. It's a very clean-living lifestyle, something that has laid the foundation of who he is as a person since his birth.
While having hippie parents, and never having taken Tylenol or drinking a Pepsi or Coke might seem odd to almost everyone, Faber feels it's things like that which have made him as successful as he's become.
"It's hard for a lot of people to understand holistic living," he said when asked about it. "Yeah, my parents were hippies, but not tree-hugging hippies. They were just all about love and acceptance of people and things. First and foremost, I come from a very loving, tolerant household."
"Yes, I may have grown up eating and drinking things that most people might find weird, but it was just a normal thing thanks to my parents."
"Respect is something that was instilled into me ever since I was a baby. I don't go into the cage wanting to or trying to hurt anyone, it's not who I am. I have a great deal of respect for my opponents, but you can bet I try and do whatever it takes to win a fight."
"Understanding that there is no malice in my intentions is important to understand. I'm just in there competing and trying to be the best fighter in the world. It doesn't mean I have to hate my opponent or try and hurt him."
There's no doubt that fans of MMA have every right to be upset and frustrated with how the last two weekends have turned out for the UFC and Strikeforce.
The WEC may not be the top name in fighting organizations, but they are about to explode on the scene and provide something not seen in the last two weeks: respect and action.
If they are willing to give the WEC a chance, they'll be pleasantly surprised by not only the respect of the competitors, but the non-stop action in every fight from the first fight on the preliminary card, to the main event featuring Aldo and Faber.
Urijah Faber has had a lot to do with the growth of the company, and he plans to be around long enough to see it obtain even greater heights. For those who aren't familiar with him, or even those who are, expect to witness one of the best examples of what mixed martial arts is all about.
The sport is depending on such a performance.
To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here .
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