Urijah Faber will step inside of the Octagon for the first time in nearly three years tomorrow night (Sat., July 13, 2019) at UFC on ESPN+ 13 live on ESPN+ from inside Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., when he takes on rising bantamweight contender Ricky Simon in the co-main event.
Faber, who was last seen beating Brad Picket via unanimous decision at UFC on FOX 22 back in 2016, is hoping to jump back into competition like he never left. That’s something easier said than done even for a former UFC title challenger, but the 40-year-old believes he hasn’t “skipped a beat” in his return to UFC.
Even after retiring back in 2016, Faber remained in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool just in case an opportunity arose to make his comeback. He’ll get his chance to make up for lost time this weekend against the surging Simon.
“I’d been thinking about it for a while,” Faber told MMA Junkie earlier this week regarding his decision to return to fighting. “I’d been teased with opportunities from the UFC throughout for some short-notice fights and whatnot, but there’s no secret I stayed within the USADA drug pool throughout my retirement time just because I want to be able to if I decide too jump in.
“I’m the kind of guy that follows his heart and the current landscape is exciting for UFC, for mixed martial arts in general and I was having a big FOMO. I’m in the gym every day testing myself against these guys and being around it.”
While Faber has been preparing for Simon for the past few months he was expecting to meet a different opponent in his return. In fact, Faber was offered a fight with fellow California native and jiu-jistu prodigy Kron Gracie, who captured a submission win over Alex Caceres in his UFC debut back in February.
“They offered me the Kron Gracie fight and they said it would be the main event and I said, ‘Yeah, I would be interested in that,’” Faber said. “I know he trains with Nick and Nate Diaz. I don’t know how involved he is with them. I have a really good relationship with those guys and maybe that’s why the fight didn’t happen. Maybe he just didn’t feel like he wanted to do it in Sacramento during that time. He’s a bit of a unique cat. That was offered, they’d talked about Cub Swanson who they’d offered me a couple times in the past. When that was brought up they said no to that deal.”
With the Gracie and Swanson fights falling through, the former WEC champion will now take on one of the fastest growing names in the division. Simon may not be the most talented bantamweight on the UFC roster today, but he’s going to give Faber a run for all his money when the two collide at UFC Sacramento.
“I had to go do some research,” Faber said of Simon. “I of course watch the fight game, but there’s a lot of stuff going on. I was aware of Ricky Simon, I’ve seen him fight a couple times but had to go really delve in to check him out. He’s a tough kid, he’s a guy that loves to fight, he comes prepared, he’s got a good skillet, he’s got a lot of heart, great conditioning. So, that’s a guy you want to fight. You want a guy that’s going to be there and give his all and he’s got the world to gain. He’s 15-1, he wants to climb the ranks and I’m somebody he’s probably watched growing up.”
As for the fight itself, Faber isn’t sure if Simon is ready for the level of competition he’s going to bring. After all, Faber is a true veteran of the sport and a guy who fought for the UFC bantamweight strap four different times (albeit he lost all four).
“I don’t see Ricky Simon breaking,” Faber said. “That’s something that’s happened in the past you push guys to breaking points and he knows that’s not going to happen with me. It doesn’t happen. I think I just have to be better. First to the punch and better in all areas. He’ll be very good someday, but I don’t think he’s at my level now.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 155 fight card below, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time of 8 p.m. ET.