Urijah Faber likes to stay busy.
In or out of the octagon, the California Kid is always working, always keeping in shape and ready to fight whenever Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White calls him with his latest bantamweight assignment.
Saturday's bout against Brazil's Yuri Alcantara will be the Sacramentan's third fight of 2013 and part of the undercard for the main event at TD Garden in Boston between former UFC light-heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Chael Sonnen at UFC Fight Night 26 on Fox Sports 1. Faber would fight every day if it meant getting closer to another title shot.
A win against Alcantara (28-4) should put Faber back in title contention against either interim UFC bantamweight title holder Renan Barao or champion Dominick Cruz. With Barao and Cruz injured, Faber is taking whatever the UFC throws his way to stay busy and in title contention.
"I only fought once in 2012 (a loss to Barao), so fighting a lot is a nice change," said Faber (28-6), the former featherweight champion. "The next win should (earn a title shot). I have no preference who I fight. I do what I'm told in this sport. Who's next? Let's go."
Not that Faber is looking past Alcantara. That would be a huge mistake, and he knows it. Alcantara is 3-1 with one no-contest in his last five fights, including three decisions and one technical knockout. Twelve of his victories have come by submission and half of those by armbars.
"He's also a southpaw, so I've been training for that," Faber said. "He's very good, and I'm most impressed with his finishes. He's a big guy, too."
Alcantara has fought as heavy as a welterweight (up to 170 pounds) in Brazil and went 2-1 as a featherweight (145) before dropping to bantamweight (135), where he has had one win and the no-contest. Perhaps his most impressive victory under the Zuffa promotional umbrella came during World Extreme Cagefighting 53 in 2010 as a lightweight, knocking out current No. 3 featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas in the first round. Zuffa owned WEC and UFC until after WEC 53, when the two organizations merged under the UFC banner.
Alcantara, like most Brazilian mixed martial artists, is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Faber is an accomplished wrestler who is getting better at his stand-up game thanks to the recent hiring of coach Duane Ludwig. Fighters for Team Alpha Male, which Faber founded 10 years ago, have gone 9-0 since Ludwig started coaching in Sacramento last December. Ludwig owns the UFC's fastest-knockout record of six seconds.
Whether it's a victory by punches or submissions, Faber doesn't care. Win, and he moves on to earn a chance at revenge against Barao or Cruz. Lose, and the door leading to another title shot may be tougher to open.
"The fans probably want to see me fight Cruz again," Faber said. "So, yeah, I want Cruz."
UFC FIGHT NIGHT 26
Who: Yuri Alcantara (28-4) vs. Urijah Faber (28-6), undercard
When: Saturday, 5 p.m.
Where: TD Garden, Boston
TV: Fox Sports 1 (not available everywhere)
Main event: Mauricio Rua vs. Chael Sonnen
Mark Billingsley covers mixed martial arts for The Bee. Reach him at email@example.com.