In the bruising world of mixed martial arts, he's known internationally as the California Kid and the Fighting Pride of Sacramento.
Now Urijah Faber can add "author" to his impressive résumé, which also includes TV star (the FX cable network reality show "The Ultimate Fighter: Live"), clothier (the Alpha Male collection of T-shirts and caps), fitness- center owner (Ultimate Fitness at 17th and I streets) and Ultimate Fighting Championship fight team leader (Team Alpha Male).
Fans have long relished the arch-rivalry between Faber and UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Marketers knew what they were doing when they set up the fighters to coach opposing teams on "Ultimate Fighter."
"The Laws of the Ring" (with Tim Keown; William Morrow, $25.99, 223 pages, on sale Tuesday) is a mix of memoir and straightforward self-help advice. It's organized into 36 "Laws of Power," a cumulative guide to "finding your passion and incorporating it into your life."
Try this quote: "Go slow if you must. Go easy if you must. Just go."
Faber, 33, who was once on the UC Davis wrestling team, is the former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion, a title he held for two years. Now he's the top bantamweight contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization (which merged with the WEC in 2010).
Faber and Cruz are 1-1 in their matches against each other. A tiebreaker was scheduled for July 7 in Las Vegas (to have been a pay-per-view event), but the UFC president, Dana White, announced recently that Cruz had injured his knee, forcing him out of the fight.
Typically in such a scenario, the top two contenders for a vacated title meet in a match. The winner becomes the interim champion, who will fight the former champ - when he returns from the injury - for the permanent title. In other words, Cruz will have to reapply for his job.
Though the UFC had not made a formal announcement as of deadline, it's probable that Faber will meet the No. 2 contender, Brazilian mixed martial artist Renan Pegado, for the interim title. That's according to Jeff Meyer, who represents Faber through Sacramento-based MMA Inc.
Ideally, the Faber-Pegado match would be held July 7 in Las Vegas, replacing the Faber-Cruz battle.
We caught up with Faber by phone in Las Vegas. To visit with him, go to www.urijahfaber.com.
Your sister, Michaella Tastad, suffered life-threatening injuries in a car crash in November. How's she doing?
We're in the clear. She's 100 percent, physically and mentally.
We heard your mom, Suzanne Tastad, had a run-in with a burglar.
Yeah, she caught him trying to break into her friend's house and held him up with a pellet gun until the cops got there. Our whole family is pretty tough.
"Laws" is part memoir, part business plan and part self-help for those looking to kick-start their lives. How did it come together?
A magazine asked me to write an article (on any topic) in 2008, so I chose (the subject of) parents who want their kids to be champions. But parents usually don't get to choose what their kids are going to be champions of - if anything. I kept writing it and it took on its own shape, changing as I went along. I learned a lot from writing it. It's pretty cool, man, I'm proud of it.
It's organized into 36 "laws," or guidelines to life. Which are the most essential?
The first is having a positive attitude, and then surrounding yourself with the right people.
If a reader follows your plan, then what?
I hope people get inspired and are encouraged to follow their own dreams. (The gist is) to take the idea of learning from your experiences and the (good advice from) people you've met, and figure out the best way to live your own life. (I make it clear that) these are my laws made from my experiences, and I encourage people to be their own law-makers.
Your title match with Dominick Cruz has been postponed. You might fight Renan Pegado.
It'll be a difficult fight. The guy's got a different skill set than Dominick, but (the fight) will be just as winnable - and just as dangerous.
Your most memorable fights?
The third fight in my career (2004) was against David Velasquez, who was 36 years old and the featherweight champion in the Gladiator Challenge promotion. I was just starting to get an idea of what I could do with this sport. I won that fight, and it was a good one.
The other one was against Jens Pulver in Sacramento, my first big staged fight in my hometown, with 15,000 people there. I had always respected him and been a fan. To beat him was also pretty impressive.
What's your training routine?
I work out two to three times a day, five days a week, sometimes six. We do some kickboxing, some straight jujitsu and either mixed martial arts sparring or boxing sparring. Grappling is probably my strongest thing, and I like boxing, but I've become pretty well-rounded over the last eight years. Back home in Sacramento, I spend most of my days at my gym, Ultimate Fitness.
Mark Twain said courage is the mastery of fear. Are you ever afraid before a fight?
People fear the unknown, but once you're prepared and put yourself in a scenario so many times, it becomes familiar and it's nothing to fear. I don't fear fighting; I do it all day. I worry about the external things I can't control, like stuff with my family and letting people down. That kind of stuff bothers me more than actual fear, but I don't let it stop me from doing anything.
Any words for your readers and fight fans?
Make sure you don't chase security and that you enjoy every day. Being happy in the moment is the most important thing. If you're happy right now, you'll be happy with your past and happy in your future.