Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen are longtime friends. But for one night, that kinship will be forgotten.
The two Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweights are putting friendship aside in the name of business. When they square off Saturday at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, the winner will find himself in the mix for a title shot.
In UFC’s official rankings, Faber (27-6) currently ranked as the division’s No. 2 contender behind only champion Dominick Cruz sidelined following knee surgery) and interim champion Renan Barao (who defeated Faber last July in Calgary).
Jorgensen (14-6) is No. 7 and would certainly make a big jump should he defeat the former World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion.
The two would have preferred to not face each other but with such high stakes, they’ll shake hands before and after the bell – and do their best to beat the other down for the 25 minutes in between.
“We’ve sparred against each other before. We beat each other up before. This (time) we’re going to get paid a bunch. We’re going to do it a little bit longer and little more intense,” said Faber.
The two have known each other for more than a decade, dating back to when they both wrestled collegiately. They share the same management team. They hang out away from the gym. Their families know each other.
Faber has gone to Boise, Idaho, to train with Jorgensen, and Jorgensen has been to Faber’s gym in California. None of that matters come bell time, they say.
“When we step in the cage, that’s the only thing that matters is that 25 minutes, and how we handle ourselves,” said Jorgensen.
“On (Saturday), I’m going to hit him as hard as I can. He’s gonna do the same thing back.”
The undercard features a pair of matches with major implications. In a women’s bantamweight contest, former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate (13-3) faces Cat Zingano (7-0), with the winner receiving a title shot against superstar champion Ronda Rousey.
In addition, Rousey and either Tate or Zingano will coach opposing teams on the coming season of The Ultimate Fighter. Tate lost her Strikeforce title to Rousey in March 2012.
She’s excited over the prospect of getting a rematch, and also gaining the exposure that would come with coaching The Ultimate Fighter. The coming season will feature a men’s and women’s division, and will star women’s coaches for the first time.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a really long time. It is pressure. It is nerves. But it is part of the game,” said Tate.
In the middleweight final of The Ultimate Fighter 17, Uriah Hall (8-2) takes on Kelvin Gastelum (6-0). The winner receives a UFC contract along with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Hall has been the star of this season, providing some of the most vicious knockouts in the program’s history. Coach Chael Sonnen, following one of Hall’s wins, told him that he is already a contender in the middleweight division.
“I’m so confident and relaxed, it’s scary,” said Hall.