Urijah Faber is in line to win his third straight fight Saturday in Boston. Five years have lapsed since the 34-year-old "California Kid" stitched together more than two victories. Those were the heady days of Faber's World Extreme Cagefighting championship run, which ended when a 13-bout winning streak crumbled as Mike Thomas Brown stunned Faber in the opening round.
In November, Faber will hit the one-decade mark as a professional mixed martial artist. It's been quite a run for a man who is as well known as any fighter under 155 pounds in MMA.
Since 2008, Faber is just 8-5 in the cage. But because of the way his body has held up, and the manner in which he owned Ivan Menjivar and Scott Jorgensen earlier this year, Faber feels that his best days are in front of him. As such, he's pining for blockbuster matchups.
"I'd like to talk with Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta] about some meaningful fights here coming up," he said.
Any chance of having it happen is contingent upon a victory in the TD Garden against Yuri Alcantara (28-4), who is neither a pushover nor household name. This, Faber lamented, is the biggest professional disappointment he's currently dealing with.
"I just wish there were more names in my weight class," he said. "The only other name that people are talking about is Ronda Rousey, and we can't do that fight. I wish there was more steam behind some of the fighters. It's a little bit frustrating, but it is what it is."
A significant chunk of fighters, from their earliest days in the sport, focus on nothing but competing, improving and testing their fortitude. In their world, little else matters. Faber (28-6) was able to accomplish everything he wanted in the cage and added more outside the cage that satisfied his urges.
ESPN: Do you have a specific goal in mind before you're done? Get to 50 fights? A specific UFC record? Anything along those lines that you hope to accomplish?
Urijah Faber: Not particularly, no.
ESPN: Is there a reason for that? You've always been a goal-oriented guy.
Faber: I've always been a goal-oriented guy, but I've never been a great planner. I've never thought things out and planned things out.
I'm someone who follows his heart. So when I look at a career like that, it's about how I feel. And right now I feel great. I'm training hard. I feel as an athlete and as a mixed martial artist I'm coming up to the peak of my performances. My skill level is high. My body still feels great. And my motivation is there. I want to keep building on that, and when that starts to fade, then I'll begin to think about an exit strategy. But that's not the case right now.
ESPN: Is it hard for you to wrap your head around the fact that you're 34 now? You've been doing this for a while.
Faber: It is kind of crazy to think that it's been 10 years in the sport. It flew by. You know; you were there. It seems like yesterday we were fighting at Indian casinos and no one knew who the heck we were. And we were celebrating all these little victories in MMA along the way, like the legalization of MMA in California. Even the fact of when Zuffa bought the UFC. Getting on TV for the first time. All these little benchmarks that are now so far in the distance even though they're only a couple years ago. It has been a really cool process, and I'm glad to be a part of it.
ESPN: You've had a chance to fight during a stretch in which the sport has grown probably more than it will ever grow in its history. I've had a chance to cover it as a reporter. We're pretty fortunate to have been around during this period. Do you feel the same?
Faber: Yeah, 100 percent. This is all history. We're part of the history. That's part of wanting to do the superfights is just knowing that this is a monumental time and there will be historic names in the sport. And I've fought a lot of them, but there's more to fight. I want to fight the guys that people will look back on [and reminisce about]. I wish there were a couple more guys out there, but I feel like there's a couple within my reach. Not only going for titles, but outside of that as well.
ESPN: Having been in the sport for 10 years and having been a champion holding major titles and headlining pay-per-views, where do you think your name belongs among all-time great fighters in MMA?
Faber: I don't really have time to sit back and evaluate my situation at this point. I'm just moving forward. I'll do that in a couple years when I decide to hang 'em up. I'll see where I stand.
ESPN: So you're not there yet. But do you feel comfortable enough with the things you've accomplished that at the end of the day people will talk about you in those terms? Does that matter to you?
Faber: I'm sure that I'll be a guy that's talked about for years to come. I sit and think about myself as a fan of boxing when I was a kid and the guys I think about and talk about, and it's kind of cool to be in a reverse situation, where I'm a guy that would influence some people's lives and a piece of entertainment for kids growing up and had monumental fights that people will talk about. Remember the Jens Pulver fight? The Mike Brown fight? That kind of thing. I like that aspect of it, and that's another reason I want to do these superfights. I want these fights that matter.
ESPN: The fight this weekend against Yuri Alcantara -- he's a guy that people don't really know. But he's dangerous, and based on his record, it's obvious he knows how to win fights and stop opponents. What kind of test are you expecting?
Faber: I'm expecting a test of the utmost. This guy is as tough as anyone I've fought. His record is 28-4, and he's been fighting in big shows in higher weight classes for a long time. I'm expecting to be pushed to the utmost, have to bring my A-game, and everything has to go as planned to get my hand raised. That's what I'm going to do.
ESPN: So when you get offered a guy like Alcantara, with no name, and you want these big superfights, what's the thought process for you in terms of taking the fight or not taking the fight?
Faber: I didn't realize that people are out there not taking fights, because for me it's been, they offer you a fight, from the position [UFC matchmakers] Joe Silva and Sean Shelby have, and you take it. This is all new to me. I'm going to fight that guy; I'm not going to fight this guy. I didn't know guys have been doing this the whole time.
ESPN: You've never been offered an opponent and thought "This won't do anything for me. I don't want to take it"? That's never happened?
Faber: I've been in a pretty unique position where I've been one of the biggest names in my weight class, so it's always been like I'm the bigger name in the situation. For me, I'm the guy that people are going to be talking about. In my situation right now, I just want to make sure I go out there and perform. Make sure that I have an exciting fight and I get the win.
ESPN: If everything goes the way you expect it will on Saturday, is there anyone you're going to call out? Maybe one or two guys who match what you want to do in terms of superfights and the right kind of exposure?
Faber: We'll have to see. I just want to focus on this fight first, and we'll speak from the heart when the time comes.