For one night, at least, Urijah Faber turned the clock back to the WEC days.
The UFC Hall of Famer nicknamed “The California Kid,” whose popularity and charisma as the WEC featherweight champion more than a decade ago helped pave the way for the 145-pound-and-under set to burst on to the main stage and thrive in the biggest MMA events, returned from retirement Saturday night and gave his fans a moment to remember.
Fighting in front of an adoring hometown crowd in Sacramento, Calif., the 40-year-old Faber (34-10 MMA, 10-6 UFC) electrified the crowd with the fastest finish of his career at UFC on ESPN+ 13. Faber finished Ricky Simon just 46 seconds into the opening round.
“This felt amazing. I love fighting for Sacramento,” the Team Alpha Male founder said. “Props to Ricky Simon. That kid has the right mentality. It takes time – he’s just not there yet.”
Simon (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) came out pushing a fast pace. A little too fast, as it turned out, as Faber blasted Simon with a wicked overhand right that dropped him. One of Faber’s follow-up shots on the ground appeared to briefly put Simon out, which was all referee Mike Beltran had to see to wave the fight off.
It was Faber’s second straight win, the last coming in his retirement fight over Brad Pickett on Dec. 17, 2016, also in Sacramento. It was also Faber’s win by strikes since Joe Pearson tapped to ground-and-pound in a WEC featherweight title fight in 2007.
Lest anyone think this is a one-and-done, Faber called out UFC bantamweight and flyweight Henry Cejudo after the bout.
“The think Henry Cejudo called me out a little while ago,” Faber said. “And then I heard Dana said I was old. I know Dana White was old when he was 40 but I was a young man. Dana was old when he was 28, C’mon Dana.”
The bantamweight bout was the UFC on ESPN+ 13 co-main event at Golden1 Center in Sacramento, Calif. The event streamed on ESPN+.
Up-to-the-minute UFC on ESPN+ 13 results include:
Josh Emmett def. Mirsad Bektic via TKO (punches) — Round 1, 4:25
Karl Roberson def. Wellington Turman via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Marvin Vettori def. Cezar Ferreira via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Julianna Pena def. Nicco Montano via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)
Ryan Hall def. Darren Elkins via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Jonathan Martinez def. Liu Pingyuan via knockout (knee) – Round 3, 3:54
Brianna Van Buren def. Livinha Souza via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Benito Lopez def. Vince Morales via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)