It ended and begins again in Sacramento for UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber, who returns to the Octagon on Saturday at Golden 1 Center against Ricky Simon.
Faber originally announced his retirement following a unanimous decision victory over Brad Pickett at Fight Night Sacramento in December 2016.
The founder of Team Alpha Male, never removed himself from the USADA testing pool and continued to fight in other competitions. Eventually the combination of training and being around other fighters re-lit the fuse for The California Kid.
“First and foremost being inside the gym everyday, you get motivated by guys that are doing the right thing and by guys that are doing the wrong thing,” Faber told the TSN MMA Show. “On top of that, there have been some enticing moments where the UFC has come to me with offers for fights on short notice a weight above. After the last time that happened, I said I was going to get myself in good shape.”
“I ended up taking another grappling match, my third in retirement that was against high level, world class guys and just piggybacked off that momentum, getting my competitive juices flowing and pulled the trigger when they were coming to SAC.”
As for the opponent he would face, the former UFC title challenger was offered a few names at featherweight, but ultimately decided that his return should be at the weight he excelled at during his hall of fame UFC career.
“They had originally offered me (Kron) Gracie as the main event at 145lbs,” said Faber. “There were talks in the past about Cub Swanson at 145 and I just figured if I was going to come back, I want to come back at 135 and this is the name that (Sean) Shelby threw out. This kid is a tough, tough kid, he’s definitely going to be an exciting fight, he’s going to be a competitive fight, so I said alright, let’s do it. It’s more about me and not who’s across from me.”
While Simon doesn’t have the biggest name, he is the No. 15 rank and there were in the end, not a long list of options for Faber at bantamweight.
“If you look at the weight class, TJ (Dillashaw) is out, got busted for cheating,” said Faber. “Cody and Dominick have been out with injuries, Cody’s my teammate, Song’s my teammate, everyone else is teammates and I mean, who are the big names right now in the weight division?”