Urijah Faber sees a scenario where he ends up challenging UFC champ-champ Henry Cejudo in his return to professional fighting.
The former WEC featherweight champion resumes his historic MMA career on Saturday night in the same place he decided to hang up the gloves in December 2016. Faber will be competing in his hometown against top-15 bantamweight Ricky Simon in the co-headlining slot of UFC Sacramento.
Speaking with MMA Fighting, Faber made it clear he doesn’t know if this will be a sustained comeback, but will entertain all possibilities if he does continue fighting beyond Saturday. This possible return to active competition includes a potential matchup with UFC bantamweight and flyweight champion Cejudo, who called out Faber, among others, after becoming a dual-division champion at last month’s UFC 238.
“Absolutely, I’ll never rule that out,” Faber said. “Henry just called me out, the current champ at two different weight classes and an Olympic gold medalist. So that’s an enticing fight for me because of the matchup, and you know, the reason I’m in the sport. And the fact he threw me in the mix and we talked about it 10 years ago prior, which is kind of cool how that all played out. So that’s always in the back of my head, for sure.”
Cejudo did in fact train with Faber’s Team Alpha Male when he was just starting in his MMA training a decade ago. Faber says even back then Cejudo had thoughts on fighting him one day.
“Theres a video on YouTube of me where I’m interviewing Henry and introducing him to the world as the Olympic champ and his new shoe and that was 10 years ago. He was there talking shop about getting involved and everything else so we spent some time, and then at the end of it, he said, ‘What do you think about maybe you and me fighting some day,’ and I took it real serious, in a good way.
“I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely, man.’ And I think I probably said something of how long of a road that would be [Faber at the time was already an established name] and it’s 10 years later now, so the road has been traveled.”
To this day, Faber remains one of the most recognizable names in the lighter weight classes. And having left the sport while still ranked in the top-10 and with a dominant win over Brad Pickett, Faber doesn’t think it’s a crazy idea that he could potentially fight Cejudo next, specially in this new era of MMA. Yet, the thought of the opportunity won’t change his approach to fighting, which welcomes any and all challengers.
“I mean I can do it after this one,” Faber explained. “When I retired, the year I retired I fought for a world championship, I lost a decision to Dominick Cruz and I was ranked like number six in the world or something like that, so that’s how I retired, off a win. So that’s where my head has been at.
“I’ve always counted myself in for the biggest opportunities against the best guys and I don’t say no to guys that may not have as much clout either, you know. I’ve done that in the past and I’m doing that again, so I’m just an honest combative MMA athlete that’s going to get in there to mix it up and believe he’s going to win. That’s the goal on Saturday.”