As frustrated as New York MMA fans must be this weekend remember it was less than five years ago, when the Empire State was the norm.
Urijah Faber started his career in the dark days when outside of Indian reservations, states like New Jersey and Nevada and those without commissions, the rest of the U.S. was off limits. As he readies for his UFC debut, Faber recalled his first fight in 2003 when he battled for $200 to show and $200 to win. He also got $100 for his cut of the gate.
"I loved it," Faber told Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press. "My rent was $225 a month. I had a tiny little room in an apartment with a couple of my buddies. And it only took me a minute and a half for the fight and I was like 'man, this is awesome.'"
Faber won in 82 seconds and hauled in that "major" payday of $500.
How things have changed for Faber. Through hard work and success in the cage, the California became one of the most popular fighters in the sport while with the WEC. Faber faces Eddie Wineland this weekend at UFC 128 in Newark, N.J.
The jump to the UFC means a ton for Faber, who'll get a lot more exposure and a massive boost to his business endeavors outside of the Octagon. Faber owns Form Athletics which was purchased by K-Swiss in 2010. He's also got a popular website and is working on a self-help book.
To make the next step at the top of the sport, he needs to take out Wineland. That should set up a bantamweight title fight against the new UFC champ Dominick Cruz.� Faber was the longtime champ at 145 pounds and wants the hardware at 135, where he's facing guys closer to his natural size.
"I feel a little bit faster at 135 (bantamweight) and a little bit more powerful at 145 (featherweight), but very little difference really," Faber said. "I was only 2-3 pounds off my competition weight and I think that puts me at par with most of the guys at 135 and an advantage with some of them."
"I never really had that at the 145-pound weight class. I was always giving up weight and was able to do well because I'm an accomplished fighter but as far as having every advantage to win, I think now I have that advantage."
You can watch UFC 128 right here on Yahoo! Sports.