–Kenny Rice

Urijah Faber is moving into The Ultimate Fighter house. He won’t get much sleep. It has nothing to do with him coaching or looking ahead to another shot at Dominick Cruz’ UFC Bantamweight belt.

These things are assuredly on his mind it’s just that Faber never has time for rest. There is too many things going on in his world which expands far beyond the cage.

“If I get five hours (sleep) it’s a good night,” he says while flashing an ear-to-ear grin showing the charisma which along with skills, have brought him a horde of fans since he began his career in 2003 reeling off an 8-0 record in less than two years.

His boyish features belie his 32 years, the kind of looks that will keep him still being carded into his forties. His impact as a fighter remains among the best in the world. There is anticipation galore for his third fight with Cruz, whom he defeated at WEC 25 in 2007 to defend his Featherweight title and who he lost to last year at UFC 132 as Cruz defended his Bantamweight crown.

What has put Faber in a class almost by himself isn’t what he is doing in the cage, but what he has been doing since he was an assistant wrestling coach at his alma mater UC Davis. This is where he began seeing far beyond the days of making a living as a fighter.

The “California Kid” is an entrepreneurial wizard whose business moves at times exceed that of anything he has done as a MMA star, hence the lack of a goodnight’s rest.

“If I have an idea I write it on my goal list. I have lists for everything; business, fighting, personal. I am always thinking about something to the point that I have trouble sleeping. There is always something to do in my mind.”

After his collegiate wrestling career ended his mind started a perpetual spin of thoughts and how to execute them. He wanted to be a champion.  It was number one on his list but he was wise beyond his years in realizing no matter how many titles, there comes that age for every great athlete to have to retire and embark on the thing most of us attempt daily–life.

Faber came up with his first business model two months out of college when he started a coaching camp, Top of the Line Coaching or TLC.

“There were groups of kids in middle school and high school that I would teach. It was run out of UC Davis. I talked the coach into letting me run it through the school and was able to use that to get a loan for my first house.

“I was making nine thousand coaching as an assistant and was having trouble qualifying for a loan until I could show I also had a business on the side established.” Another smile at the recollection and it seems as if he has already devised another business plan during this interview.

Just as with his fighting career Faber has generally been a step ahead of business opponents. His degree in human development could also read ‘development in everything.’  He has expanded far from that first housing loan, turning it into a thriving real estate endeavor of houses and land. There are web sites including one he co-owns with UFC light heavyweight Phil Davis, mmadraft.com devoted to covering all the amateurs of the sport.

He has his gym, his Team Alpha Male, a management group — MMA Incorporated, and he has written a motivational book (what else?), that is coming out soon.

“I think for me it has always been about looking ahead, about the big picture. I am not afraid to try things, not afraid of what might happen if I take a chance. This has resulted in a bunch of businesses. I like being creative and thinking totally outside the box, it’s something I do in fighting and business.”

He has been able to never worry about taking off for training, interrupting his fight schedule in the least because this fighting is still “my main focus.” To accommodate this he has stayed fixed on this philosophy. “I have ideas, a lot of them. I also have people who run the show, good partners.”

Team Alpha Male includes an impressive lineup headed by world class fighters Chad Mendes, who lost to Jose Aldo for the UFC Featherweight title this year and Joseph Benevidez who fights this weekend in the inaugural UFC Flyweight tournament. Like his other successful ventures, Faber has a keen eye for delegating, fighters or houses, it’s about putting everything in place and having someone in charge.

For his fans there should be no concern Faber will be in a suit and tie anytime soon ditching his trunks and gloves. On top of his fighting to-do list is to avenge his loss last year and take the UFC belt from Cruz.

“I have lots of fights left. I am hoping for four to five more years. I think 37 would be a good age (to retire).”

Even then don’t expect him to catch up on his sleep. There will always be too much going on for that.


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