Amidst speculation and rumors of team tension, Urijah Faber plays it cool
His Alpha Male teammates call him "The General." Urijah Faber is the unquestioned leader of the super-team he founded years ago, which has since grown into one of the very best MMA gyms in the world.
The gym focuses on producing lighter-weight fighters and has excelled at that goal. Faber himself is a former world champion and current top contender in two weight classes.
T.J. Dillashaw, recruited by Faber when he was just out of college, is the bantamweight world champion. The list of other Alpha Male contenders is long but includes the likes of Joseph Benavidez, Chad Mendes, and of late, Clay Guida.
The only downside to having so many top contenders in the same weight classes is that talk invariably goes to the hypothetical of them fighting one another. This is specifically true of Faber who, even at 36 years of age, refuses to decline or fade from the top five of the bantamweight division (and with his fight against Frankie Edgar on Saturday, the featherweight class as well).
So, since almost immediately after Dillashaw won his world title, fans, media and UFC president Dana White alike have discussed the idea of a fight between him and Faber. Though neither have expressed excitement about the idea and Faber outright rejected an offer from the UFC to fight TJ, neither fighter has completely ruled out the prospect.
There’s a chance that the fight may be closer than ever to happening, what with Dillashaw still training with former Alpha Male coach Duane Ludwig — who Faber has feuded with publicly. The Alpha Male vs. Alpha Male talk is now at a fever pitch with Faber one fight away from being once more in a top spot in the featherweight division.
Teammate Chad Mendes could be poised to fight the winner of UFC 189’s Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor title fight. However, Edgar could very well get that shot with a win in Manila.
If Faber beats Edgar, however, that would put him in direct competition with his gym mate Mendes for a shot at the belt. Observers are openly wondering if Faber and Mendes could decide such a matter of No. 1 contender status in the cage with a fight against one another.
All the tension that would appear to be boiling just below the surface at Team Alpha Male is in stark contrast to their "be cool, train hard" mentality. We ask Faber if all the speculation is getting old and if it is making things awkward within the team.
"Not for me," he says, as if the notion were ridiculous.
"Chad just invited me to dinner, so I’m assuming things are cool (laughs). There just isn’t much discussion among us about these hypothetical fights. There’s really no point in thinking too much about these things or getting all worked about them if they are not real right now."
Faber is simply happy to be competing in another huge fight, and is certainly set up for even bigger opportunities should he beat Edgar. The Alpha Male general says he’s satisfied with his own training, as well as the work of the team’s new head coach, Martin Kampmann.
Kampmann came in after Ludwig transitioned away from the Sacramento team to start his own gym in his native Colorado. Kampmann’s coaching looked to be put to great use in April as Mendes scored a nasty knockout win over Ricardo Lamas after his first full camp with the former UFC welterweight.
Faber, who was critical of Ludwig as the retired fighter was on his way out from Alpha Male, strikes a muted but positive note when speaking of Kampmann’s coaching. "Things are going well with him at the team," Faber says of Kampmann.
"I’ve been doing this awhile so I don’t need much life coaching. I just need good training. Martin runs a great practice."
Make sure to watch UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Faber at a special start time on Saturday morning: 8 a.m. ET for the prelims airing on FOX Sports 1 followed by the main card at 10 a.m. ET only on FOX Sports 1.