When T.J. Dillashaw dominated Renan Barao in May, culminating with a fifth-round technical knockout to capture the UFC bantamweight championship, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone as happy as Urijah Faber.
Dillashaw had claimed a championship for himself while also making a statement for Team Alpha Male, the training team Faber founded in 2004.
“It’s one thing to have your own career, but to have a hand in other people’s success,” Faber said, “… and build something that’s bigger than myself is pretty cool. It’s been a long process.”
Just don’t mistake Faber’s pleasure with helping the careers of others as a sign that he’s stepping away from the octagon to become a full-time businessman.
Faber (30-7) returns to action tonight at UFC 175 for the first time since losing to Barao in February to face Alex Caceres (10-5) in a three-round bantamweight bout at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Faber will look to “push the pace” against Caceres, who at 5-foot-10, has a 4-inch height advantage.
Middleweight champion Chris Weidman takes on former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in the main event.
Faber won’t be the only fighter who trained at Ultimate Fitness in Sacramento under the Team Alpha Male banner on the card.
Alexis Davis (16-5) used the gym to work on her wrestling skills to prepare for her women’s bantamweight title match tonight against champion Ronda Rousey (9-0).
Faber has never lost a non-title fight and is looking to bounce back from what many observers viewed as a premature stoppage in his TKO loss to Barao and Faber called “controversial.”
Faber has won five of his last seven fights, both losses coming against Barao, and is still one of the best fighters in his weight class.
“I’m ranked No. 2 in the world and fighting is what I do and what I’ll do in the future,” Faber said. “I’m glad I’m able to inspire and help build a team, but my passion is as a fighter.
“I haven’t taken time to smell the roses. I’m still on the grind. I’m doing my thing.”
As Team Alpha Male grows and more fighters take the spotlight, Faber doesn’t find himself overburdened.
Faber’s primary focus is still as a fighter.
“I surround myself with great people and I do what I can,” Faber said. “And mostly I’m in here as the leader, I show up to practices, I encourage these guys and try to give advice and lead by example. But I’ve got a strong group of folks around me that help run my life, help run the gym, help run the team. I don’t have to do too much that takes away from my focus.”
Davis can attest to the team Faber has at the gym.
She made training with Team Alpha Male part of her routine to prepare for Rousey.
“It was great to train there,” Davis said. “It was unlike any wrestling school I’d ever been to. Just the amount of people you have to train with, the different body types and skill levels.
“Wrestling, takedowns in general is something I’ve been trying to work on for not just my last couple of fights but for a while now. It was a great experience. I really like the coaches out there.”
Faber will be ready to celebrate if Davis can upset Rousey.
“She’s been through a couple times to work on her grappling,” Faber said. “She’s a tough girl. She’s fighting for the world championship and she’s got a tall order in front of her.”
It would be fun for Faber to see Davis win. But don’t be mistaken, Faber is focused on his fight.
It’s not time to smell the roses yet.
Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones .