UFC today announced that mixed martial arts legend, long-standing UFC bantamweight and former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber has been selected as the first inductee for the UFC Hall of Fame class of 2017. The 2017 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 6 in Las Vegas.
“Urijah Faber has been one of the most charismatic MMA stars to have ever stepped into the Octagon and I’m excited to announce him as the first inductee of the UFC Hall of Fame class of 2017,” UFC President Dana White said. “From his early days as a featherweight champion, to his decade-long career with UFC, he has made a lasting impact on the sport of MMA. He proved that the smaller weight classes could create big stars and put Sacramento on the map by building one of the strongest camps in the sport, where he coached some of the most talented athletes in the world. His legacy will continue with this next chapter as one of the best athletes to ever compete in the sport.”
Faber, who will make history as the first athlete inducted from the bantamweight or featherweight divisions, will enter the UFC Hall of Fame as a member of the Modern Wing, joining Forrest Griffin (2013) and BJ Penn (2015) as the only members of this distinguished category. The Modern era category includes athletes who turned pro on or after November 17, 2000 (when the unified rules were adopted), is a minimum age of 35 or has been retired for one year or more.
“As a fighter, you don’t take time to sit back and smell the roses when you are going through your career,” Faber said. “You’re always looking to the future, the next fight, the next camp, the next training session. To have UFC tell you that what you contributed and accomplished over the course of your career is worthy of being remembered for years to come is humbling. I’m so honored. It’s crazy that for so much of my career everyone said I was naïve to think I’d ever get the chance to fight in UFC, and now I’m going to be in the UFC Hall of Fame. It’s going to be a special night for me, my family, friends and teammates in July when I am inducted.”
Faber debuted in WEC on March 17, 2006 at WEC 19, becoming the WEC featherweight champion after defeating Cole Escovedo. His victory would secure his third professional MMA title, as he premiered in WEC following five title defenses as the King of the Cage bantamweight champion and three as the Gladiator Challenge bantamweight champion, respectively.
Upon WEC being purchased by Zuffa, LLC in 2006, Faber would make five successful featherweight title defenses between 2006-08 and headlined the organization’s only Pay-Per-View event. With an impressive career that spanned 13 years, Faber compiled a record of 34-10, which included 19 submissions, seven knockouts and 11 post-fight performance awards.
During his tenure under the Zuffa banner, “The California Kid” set records for wins in the UFC bantamweight division (10), finishes in the UFC bantamweight division (6), combined finishes as a bantamweight in UFC / WEC (7) and combined submissions as a bantamweight in UFC / WEC (7). He also holds the second-most wins combined as a bantamweight in UFC / WEC (11), significant strikes landed as a UFC bantamweight (636) and combined finishes in UFC / WEC (14). Faber also ranks second all-time, as a featherweight contender in both UFC / WEC, with five submissions and seven finishes.
One of Faber’s most impressive contributions to the sport of MMA took shape in 2004 when he established the now world-renowned “Team Alpha Male” in his adopted hometown of Sacramento, California. Since its introduction to the sport of MMA, Team Alpha Male has produced numerous world-class athletes, including current UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt, former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, top-ranked UFC flyweight Joe Benavidez, UFC strawweight Paige VanZant and UFC featherweight Chad Mendes.
A native of Isla Vista, California, Faber entered professional MMA competition shortly following a three-year (2000-03) collegiate wrestling career at UC – Davis, where he qualified for the NCAA Division I Championships twice, placed at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships, set all-time Aggie records in victories (92) and dual wins (42), while graduating with a bachelor’s degree in human development. After earning his degree, Faber spent time as a member of the Aggie’s coaching staff before entering MMA full-time.