With Saturday's fight against Renan Barao just days away, you won't believe how eager I am to get in there and fight. It's been a long training camp, especially as we filmed The Ultimate Fighter reality show during it. We also had a change in opponent and the date pushed back.
All in all, it's basically been a five-month camp and, during any camp that long, you witness the ups and downs and you have to ensure you get the most from it. I feel as though I've got the most out of it and now just can't wait to get in there and fight.
Originally this fight was scheduled for the July 7 weekend, only to be pushed back two weeks following a series of cancellations. I had to make some small adjustments when the date was moved, but nothing too drastic. On the bright side, I was home a little bit longer, which was nice, as I like being in my own environment and love being back in Sacramento.
Ultimately, there's nothing you can do when an opponent gets changed or a date gets pushed back, so you simply have to make do and adapt to it. Thankfully, I have enough experience under my belt by now to move with the dramas and not let it get to me. I've been there many, many times before. I'm not going to let anything faze me at this point in my career.
I was pretty upset when Dominick Cruz pulled out of the fight, though. I was really looking forward to fighting him for a number of reasons and there had been a ton of build-up ahead of it. It was a huge opportunity, and would have been taking place on one of the biggest fight weekends of the year. When I got the news, it was as though somebody had pulled the rug out from under me. Still, once you realize there is absolutely nothing you can do about a situation like that, you soon get over it.
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Initially, I thought Renan Barao would be the replacement opponent, as there had been a lot of hype around him and he'd been looking really impressive of late. His wins over Scott Jorgensen and Brad Pickett had made people sit up and take note, and I assumed the UFC would look in his direction when it came time to replace Dominick. But then the search went on and on and I started to wonder who else they might have lined up. Michael McDonald had been looking real good, too, but he had broken his hand, and the only other option I could think of was Ivan Menjivar.
In the end, though, it had to be Barao. He's clearly the best available option out there. Renan and I are the best contenders in the division and it's only right that we meet this weekend to see which of us is the best. This fight with Barao is interesting to me because neither Cruz or me have fought him before. He's still a bit of an unknown quantity in that sense, and I'm sure we're all waiting to see where he falls in the pecking order.
A challenge such as this one doesn't frighten me at all, though. I've had quite a few big fights in my career and I know how to deal with situations like this. I've been in there with guys like Dominick, Jose Aldo and Mike Brown, whereas Barao has yet to taste that kind of danger. He hasn't stepped up to the elite level. On Saturday night he will make that leap and we shall see how he deals with it.
Days from our fight, I have no ill feeling toward Barao. My mindset is always to just go in there and win, regardless of whether I like or dislike an opponent. Yes, there is a lot of animosity between Cruz and me, but, on the whole, I get along with most of my opponents. Barao has said nothing bad about me in the run-up to this fight, so I have no reason to dislike him. That won't change the way I approach the fight on Saturday, though. I'll be looking to bring the fight every bit as hard to Barao as I would have done to Cruz. That's a promise.
In fact, on the whole, I believe Barao is more dangerous than Cruz. He can do damage and, more importantly, seeks to do damage. Cruz is known for doing five rounds with ease and always being in great shape, but he's more awkward than damaging. Barao, on the other hand, from what we've seen so far, is somebody who likes going after his opponents and put the hurt on them. He's a grinder like myself and, in a fight between two grinders, you can guarantee great action. Neither of us will have to go looking for the other, I can assure you that …
*** 'The California Kid' Urijah Faber challenges for the vacant UFC interim world bantamweight crown against Brazilian Renan Barao on Saturday, July 21, live on Pay-Per-View ***
Follow me on Twitter @UrijahFaber.
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