It’s hard not to be slightly cynical about Urijah Faber’s retirement.
In October of last year, the former WEC featherweight champion announced his intention to call it a day, identifying a scheduled December showdown with Brad Pickett as the last hoorah of a storied 13-year career. It appeared to be the right call from Faber. He had lost three of his previous four fights and though he still looked in great condition at 37 his best days were clearly behind him. Against Pickett, he was facing a reputable but beatable opponent and the bout was scheduled to take place in Faber’s hometown of Sacramento.
The scene was set for a fairytale ending and that’s exactly what unfolded.
Faber topped Pickett via unanimous decision and he got to say a victorious thank you and good-bye to the Sacramento faithful from the centre of the octagon.
In the fight game, however, retirements typically don’t last, especially at the first attempt, and true fairytale endings are rare. More often than not, those who try to bow out on a high eventually come back and keep competing until they actually go out on a far less romantic note.
Unfortunately, it seems that Faber’s competitive juices might be nudging him toward a cliched return.
In August, ‘The California Kid’ admitted that he remained in the USADA testing pool after the Pickett fight just in case a big fight presents itself and the itch becomes unbearable.
There are hardly the actions of a man committed to retirement.
On Saturday, shortly before his protege Cody Garbrandt battled his former protege T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 217, Faber once again sounded like a man just waiting for the right opportunity to jump back into the fray.
Asked at a MetroPCS Live event what fight would be most-tempting to him, Faber answered as follows;
“I would say probably the [fight] with the most zeroes behind it, number one. You know, I would say probably T.J. Dillashaw. That sounds like a good time(via MMAFighting).”
Dillashaw, of course, went on to finish Garbrandt in the second round of a riveting shootout and swipe the UFC bantamweight title from his former Team Alpha Male pal.
A fight between Faber and the new champion might do strong business, as the backstory is even longer and more winding than that which made the Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt fight so intriguing. However, it would be hard to sell a 38-year-old Faber as a legitimate threat to the surging Dillashaw.
It would also be hard to justify handing Faber another crack. He has already failed to win UFC gold on five previous attempts, has won only two of his last five bouts and has already been inactive for a year at this point. The top contenders of the UFC bantamweight division would undoubtedly erupt if Faber was allowed to skip the queue to a title shot once again. When he was handed a crack at then champion and bitter rival Dominick Cruz in June of last year, the UFC came in for quite a bit of criticism. Dillashaw was among the most vocal of those critics, but he might feel differently if he is likely to gain financially. One wonders how Garbrandt would feel, however.