UFC

Friends become foes for the finale

Faber has grown used to being in the upper echelon of MMA.
Faber has grown used to being in the upper echelon of MMA.
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A.J. Perez

A.J. Perez previously worked at USA Today, AOL and CBSSports.com, covering beats ranging from performance-enhancing drugs to the NHL. He has also been a finalist for an Associated Press Sports Editors award for investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter.

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Scott Jorgensen has read far worse on Twitter than what he’ll hear from his opponent in The Ultimate Fighter finale in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Granted, his opponent, Urijah Faber, won’t be anonymous and the two are friends.

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“You get to connect with fans, including the idiots,” Jorgensen told FOXSports.com. “I’ve had people make fun of the fact I have vitiligo. I get it. We have bigger problems in this world than some people hiding behind fake profiles running their mouths.”

Jorgensen, 30, gives it right back, at least within the bounds of the UFC’s new code of conduct that limits how far its athletes can go on social media. There are upsides, like when those who have the skin pigmentation disorder vitiligo — something Jorgensen was diagnosed with as an adolescent — reach out to him.

“They say I’m a huge inspiration to them,” Jorgensen said. “I enjoy that aspect of it.”

Maybe not in quite the same way, but Jorgensen got some encouragement from Faber after the two met a decade ago.

Jorgensen was wrestling at Boise State. Faber was a coach at UC Davis, his alma mater, and was just making his first inroads into MMA — which at the time had few opportunities for lighter weight fighters.

“I respect Urijah. I respect him a lot, “ Jorgensen said. “I learned a lot from him at his gym. I got to know the guy outside the limelight. The fact of the matter is that he has been one of the top guys for years at 125 pounds and then 135. He’s still one of the top.”

Along with inviting Jorgensen to train at his Sacramento-area gym, Faber served as a mentor of sorts on various topics, including career advice.

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"I have always thought highly of him," Faber said. "He's always carried himself well. He's confident. He's a gamer and competes."

This certainly isn’t UFC 158 where Nick Diaz repeatedly jawed and lobbed accusations at Georges St-Pierre. But Faber vs. Jorgensen — a fight that replaced the original main between flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson and John Moraga due to injury — isn’t expected to lack intensity.

Both are active fighters and a victory likely means a shot at the interim bantamweight belt, unless the champ Dominick Cruz returns from knee surgery for a unification bout. Interim champ Renan Barao will next face Eddie Wineland at UFC 161 in June.

“I know I’m going in there to fight,” Jorgensen said. “I think Urijah would say the same thing. I can guarantee we won’t rest in there. I know on paper it should be one of the fights of the year.”

Faber fought less than two months ago, beating Ivan Menjivar with a standing rear-naked choke at UFC 157. Jorgensen is coming off a victory over John Albert at December’s UFC on FOX 5, also on a first-round submission off a rear-naked choke.

“Definitely, this is the best-case scenario for me,” Faber said. “I like being active. It keeps your name out there. It gets you one step closer to the belt.”

Faber was a champ in WEC, but he’s had two chances — first against Cruz in 2011 and again against Barao last year — to claim a UFC title. (WEC merged with UFC.) Faber lost both bouts by unanimous decision.

Some have criticized the fact that Faber remains in title contention despite those setbacks, but not Jorgensen.

“I get to fight one of the best in the world,” Jorgensen said. “I get why he (receives title shots). He built the WEC into a power. He gets as many title shots because he keeps winning fights.”

Jorgensen will do his best to make sure that he’s not another stepping stone along Faber’s path toward another shot. If that doesn’t work out, it appears doubtful he’ll be razzed by Faber on Twitter — at least from the official Urijah Faber Twitter feed complete with a blue check mark.

“Imagine if you were in high school and there were zero consequences,” Faber said. “There are just a lot of angry people out there. It’s part of the game. I don’t let it bother me and I don’t think it bothers Scotty, either.”

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