Urijah Faber is used to being in the spotlight.
He’s headlined enough World Extreme Cagefighting events to not be phased by the bright lights and full houses.
But the world’s most famous 135-pounder admits there is a chance he may get the jitters when he walks to the Octagon for his first UFC scrap.
“I’m excited about the debut, but to be honest, I’ve been in some big events before and it’s not too much different for me, really,” says the California Kid, long the face of the WEC before it merged with the UFC.
“You can always say that, but once you actually get there, it could be a whole different story.”
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, with an enviable 24-4 record, will take on Eddie Wineland (18-6-1) in a bantamweight contender match that may have bigger implications. Rumours have swirled that the winner of the fight may be tapped to coach an upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show.
Faber says he’s flattered by the prospect.
“I’d love to coach on the show,” says Faber, whose fight Saturday at UFC 128 will be his second at 135 lbs. after dropping down from 145 lbs.
“I mean, I think that would put me out until about December. So, you know, it’d be a tradeoff, but it’s a great marketing tool and I think it’d been an awesome experience.”
But before he can turn his thoughts to title fights or reality-TV cameras, he has to get through the scrappy Wineland.
“I think Eddie’s got extremely fast hands and he’s got real straight punches that land, I think, because they’re so straight. There’s so much structure behind them. They’re powerful and, you know, he’s an athlete,” says Faber. “I would say he comes with unorthodox punches that land, with straight punches that are accurate and I’m going to have to be elusive and land my punches.”
Faber considers himself a more rounded fighter than his Indiana counterpart.
“I think he’s very good at one thing and I think that’s going to be the difference. So, I would say the guy’s hard to take down,” says Faber.
“He has awareness of jiu-jitsu, but when it comes to natural instincts, I think I’m going to just be a well-rounded fighter compared to him.”
While Wineland says he has utmost respect for Faber’s attack, he has no plans of getting caught.
“As far as his strengths, I think his strengths are in grappling and with my fighting style, I’m very hard to find in order to take me down,” says Wineland. “He’s going to have to find me to get me to the ground.”
UFC 128 from New Jersey goes Saturday and features a light-heavyweight title bout between champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Jon “Bones” Jones.
It is available in Canada on pay-per-view.