Urijah Faber has done pretty much everything during his illustrious mixed martial arts career. But on Saturday, he’ll encounter a first.
Faber will appear on a preliminary card for the first time, meeting Alex Caceres in a bantamweight bout in the final undercard bout of UFC 175 at Mandalay Bay, a fight that serves as the main event of the Fox Sports 1 broadcast.
The 35-year-old Sacramento, Calif., native insists he asked off the pay-per-view portion of the card. That would make sense. At worst, the fight is the fourth-most prominent of the day, and it certainly could be argued it is third behind the two title bouts that headline the card.
Faber is unquestionably the biggest name on the undercard.
“The free card will get more viewers,” he said. “It’s free. It will be there for everyone, from the die-hard fans to the guys just passing by TVs who see it on and stop to watch. I asked for it. I didn’t think they’d do it, because they want to make sure they’re making their cash. I’m going to lead in and possibly bring in more fans to say, ‘OK, I’m going to buy this pay per view.’
“For me, it’s a smart move to be on the free card, because I get more viewers and it doesn’t change my pay at all.”
It also probably won’t get him closer to a title shot. But that’s not Faber’s main focus right now.
He has been on the verge of winning the UFC title for several years, the one thing glaringly missing from his incredible resume. Since entering the organization, the longtime World Extreme Cagefighting champion is 0-3 in title fights. He is 6-0 in nontitle bouts.
Faber obviously still wants to win the belt, and he’s the No. 2-ranked contender, but the task became a bit more complicated when friend and teammate T.J. Dillashaw won the title in May.
“(My goal) is still kind of to be the best in the world,” Faber said. “I may just have to settle for my own internal knowledge of where I stand. But I just want to keep on winning every single fight. That’s what I shoot for every single time.
“As far as am I gunning for T.J. Dillashaw? No.”
It still leaves the question of what exactly a fight against Caceres, a former contestant on “The Ultimate Fighter” who is known more for his nickname and persona than for his performance in the cage, does for Faber’s career.
“Every time I fight, people get to see me display my talent, and I get to put on a show,” Faber said. “He’s a worthy opponent, very tough. He’s got a five-fight win streak.
”I’m just looking forward to bringing my ‘A’ game and making the fans excited for a great show.”
Caceres technically has won four consecutive fights, as one of his victories was changed to a no-contest after he tested positive for marijuana.
The creative striker sports an afro and is known as “Bruce Leeroy,” from a character in “The Last Dragon.”
Caceres, 26, lost three of his first four fights in the UFC after appearing on the reality show. But he has turned it around since and is well aware of the opportunity that awaits him in a fight in which all the pressure will be on Faber.
“For me, it means just a bigger test,” Caceres said. “It will just show me where I stand in the division. I never really get the spotlight. I’m always the underdog, but I love proving people wrong. When the fight goes on, I know they’ll all be chanting my name by the end. That’s just the way it is.”
It’s just the opposite for Faber, though he quickly dismisses any notion that he is in a “no-win” situation.
The perception is that a loss in a fight in which he’s more than a minus-1,000 favorite would be crippling to his standing in the division and perhaps to his legacy. A win would be viewed simply as what was supposed to happen.
Faber said that’s nothing new.
“My whole last year was filled with that,” he said. “Iuri Alcantara, Ivan Menjivar, (Michael) McDonald, Scottie Jorgensen. When you’re in a position I’m in — I’ve been in the sport a long time and been a world champion — that’s just the reality of it. You’re either scared to play or not scared to play.
“I’m not scared of anything.”
Faber hopes to prove that to a bigger audience than usual. The four-fight Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329) card begins at 5 p.m., with the pay per view at 7.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.