MMA pioneer Urijah Faber called it a career after his unanimous decision win over Brad Pickett on Saturday, and even though he looked like a fighter with plenty of gas still left in the tank, the former WEC featherweight champion and longtime UFC bantamweight standout let his hometown fans at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento that he is indeed walking off into the proverbial sunset.
“I love doing this, there’s nothing like it in the world, but I am ready to move forward and do some big things,” Faber said.
If those big things resemble anything like what “The California Kid” achieved over the course of a 13-year career that saw him put the lighter weight classes on the map while he fought the best of his era over two weight classes, the world will be in for something in the coming years.
But for tonight, it was about the fight for the 37-year-old Faber, and he was in top form in beating Pickett by three scores of 30-26.
With “California Love” leading him into the Octagon for the final time, Faber was warmly welcomes by his hometown crowd and he was on his game from the start. On target with his strikes and slick with his defense, Faber stayed just out of Pickett’s range as he picked and poked at the Londoner. Midway through the first round, the two scrambled to the mat briefly, and then Faber struck with a flush left hook that dropped Pickett hard to the mat. Pickett was able to survive the initial onslaught, but Faber stayed patient as he took his opponent’s back and looked for the finish. Remarkably, though, the bloodied Pickett made it out of the round.
The left hook jarred Pickett early in round two again, but the gritty Brit kept moving forward, targeting Faber’s calf with his kicks. Faber was able to trip Pickett to the mat with a little less than two minutes gone, but soon enough the two were standing again. As the round hit the four-minute mark, Faber nearly caught Pickett in a guillotine choke, but “One Punch” escaped and another round was in the books.
Getting the fight to the mat early in the third and final round, Faber scored some points with his strikes before going back to a standing position, but it was only for a few moments as “The California Kid” scored another takedown. Again, Pickett avoided the guillotine, but he ate plenty of forearms before getting back to his feet. Pickett did score a flash knockdown of an off-balance Faber in the closing 90 seconds, but it was to be his last stand, as Faber dragged his opponent to the mat until the final horn, capping off a big win and a great career.
“This life experience has been amazing,” Faber said. “I honestly feel like I got my PhD in real life and I’m ready to go forward (because) it’s like I just graduated.”
With the win, Faber retires with a 34-10 record. Pickett, 38, falls to 26-13.