UFC Hall Of Famer Urijah Faber on the new Kinektic MMA promotion & more (Exclusive)
The only UFC Hall Of Famer who has ever won a fight after his induction, Urijah Faber is in rare company as a fighter. He is also in rare company as an entrepreneur within the MMA world, having recently co-founded the new Kinektic MMA promotion with Las Vegas entrepreneur Keith Veltre, and award-winning combat sports announcer Sean Wheelock.
Kinektic, which debuted on the UFC FIGHT PASS network on August 16th, is a team-based, grappling promotion. Its four team coaches are major stars within the MMA world: Chael Sonnen, Craig Jones, Anthony Smith and Chris Lytle.
Faber -- the company's Vice President of Business Development -- will also serve as a mat-side and backstage interviewer, while UFC women’s flyweight Paige VanZant will be its lead color commentator.
Just days before Kinektic's premiere on UFC FIGHT PASS, I spoke with Urijah Faber by telephone. Some highlights from the chat are transcribed below for your reading pleasure, while the full audio of the interview will be broadcast on a future edition of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast.
More on Kinektic is online at www.UFCFightPass.com, while Faber can be followed on social media sites via the @UrijahFaber handle.
Indeed you have more than 25 years of grappling-related experience and going back to what you said, where you were making $7,000 a year being a wrestling coach. When did you exactly have that moment where you said, “Wait a second, I can make a living for the rest of my life doing this, being in this world.”
Urijah Faber: I think I was training for my third fight and at this time I was fighting it in a casino… I was getting a piece of the tickets that I sold. I was also selling t-shirts on campus and then I was coaching wrestling, which is part of my training anyway… My friends and fans bought the tickets... I'd sell t-shirts for Alpha Male t-shirts alongside the tickets, and I remember right the third fight I got, I think it was maybe $1,000 to fight, but I mean another $1,000 in ticket sales and another couple hundred dollars in merch -- $2,500. Meanwhile, I got paid $7,000 a year to be a college assistant wrestling coach. So right there that was a lot of money to me.
If you don't look at the fact that you're training your whole life… I just did, what? Five to 10 minutes for $2,500. That's how I was looking at things, you know? So you know that kind of got the ball rolling for me.
A survival of the fittest kind of thing – “I like doing this, I'm going to find a way to do it.” I was coaching kids and I was selling T-shirts and I was doing all these little things that were allowing me to live the lifestyle I wanted. I felt like I wasn't working, yet I was working 17 hours a day.”
As they say, you never work a day in your life if you love what you do, but outside of that, because you're clearly a motivated hustle-oriented kind of guy, is there a lot of free time? Or you love working?
Urijah Faber: I wouldn't say there's a lot of free time, and even when I travel I try to make a business trip out of it, which occasionally gets on other people's nerves. Especially people that want to be on vacation… In particular my girl, you know?
But for me when I travel, I want to make sure I make a couple of connections there or meet up with people to business with, or I will do some sort of seminar, or make sure there’s some sort of training. I try to multitask and there's not much free time of day. It's business and pleasure, but you know they're hand-in-hand and they blend.
Are there any particular role-models that you have as an entrepreneur?
Urijah Faber: A lot of guys are part of a group, an entrepreneurial organization, and I'm the least accomplished guy in the room in my eyes. So that helps out a lot with me once a month for four, five hours -- no phone. We talk about all sorts of stuff. Everyone's from a different background, the business guys are exiting their companies for millions of dollars, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars, and learning about different structures and problems and things like that.
But as far as an entrepreneur that I dig, I like, Richard Branson is one guy. He leads with the idea of having fun and it seems like he does a lot of cool stuff. Elon Musk, he acts like he's more of a creator than he is a business-like entrepreneur. He's somebody that likes to make cool things happen and build stuff. Mark Cuban, he has a lot of fun when he does stuff, he doesn't care what people think. Daymond John is a good friend of mine... Then I have all the guys locally here in Sacramento that I have become friends with. I’m constantly picking their brains.
Is there something you wish more people knew you?
Urijah Faber: I feel like people have a pretty good idea of what's going on with me. I think that people need to understand that being an entrepreneur doesn't mean you need to have all the money in the world. It means that you're a risk-taker. It's kind of like the fight game. There’s potential to be doing massive things but there’s also potential to lose, so it can be scary at times.
I talk to one guy, my buddy Martin Floreani. He started FloWrestling right when I started my career and we're good friends. He's had massive success with FloWrestling and FloTrack and everything. Now he's got a big business. I remember I asked him for something and he said, “Yeah man, everything you do seems to seems to work.” And that's not the case. There are a lot of failures among the successes, and so people just need to know that this is the real world. It's not all hashtag and tweets. It's not all sunshine and rainbows.
Well, my usual closing question is “any last words for the kids?” and you kind of hit on a lot of that, but anything else to add along those lines?
Urijah Faber: Just don't be afraid… You have to get out there and try and fail and get back out. Go, go, go. That's the fight game, that's the business world, that's just life in general.