Russian Time Magazine

Urijah Faber: Follow Your Passion And Money Will Come

We’ve all heard the advice, “Follow your passion” or “Do what you love and the money will come”. I think we all on some level wantto be true. But how many of us have been fortunate enoughto pursue our passions and do what we love for a living?
I was lucky enoughto interview such a unique person whose way of thinking is a clear confirmation that if you really hear the call of your heart, then you will definitely achieve everything, both in life and in your career.

His name is Urijah Faber. Most people know him by his successful MMA career as champion in the WEC and Hall of Fame status in the UFC. Urijah also is a founder of one of the most victorious MMA teams in the world, Team Alpha Male. But not many of us know that Urijah is an extremely successful entrepreneur. Urijah with the help of his talented team is managing real estate projects, IT start-ups, ventures in the fitness industry, health food brand, movie making, and non-profit organizations. Plus, he is an amazing dad of two beautiful kids and a very caring husband and son. How he manages to combine all these roles and enjoy his life, I decided to find out personally by coming to his UltimateFitness gym in Sacramento.
Could you tell us more about your childhood and how your parents raised you?
My dad is a first generation American from Holland. My grandparents were immigrants and raised my dad in a very supportive and loving environment. My mom was the oldest daughter of two younger brothers and also helped her mom who was deaf. Both of my parents are very positive and hard-working people. I was born in Santa Barbara and raised in the greater Sacramento area. I really enjoyed my childhood even when my parents got divorced. I spent time with both of them and felt so much love and encouragement from them, and never felt being alone.
How did you come up with an idea to pursue your goals in the mixed martial arts? Did you have a role model?
Honestly, I don’t know what I wanted to do. I was just encouraged to follow my heart. I was a big fan of boxing and I started wrestling when I was in 7th grade, and at that point I was leaning towards those kinds of sports. I’ve watched all the fights and my favorite fighters were Mark Coleman, Vitor Belfort, and Tito Ortiz. The funniest thing is that I became good friends with all of them. Now I am in the UFC Hall of Fame with those whom I admired the most.
Could you name three criteria that are needed to become a great fighter?
First and foremost, it’s got to be someone that wants it and believes in himself. No matter what, he should have a winning mindset. The second is just a really hard work ethic and then the last one is intelligence. Fighters need to be able to understand how to learn, how to train and keep it, they should be open to being taught.
What is the most important thing for those who want to become not just a good fighter but to be a legend?
I would say mental toughness. I remember my Trainer Master Tang and he was such an inspiring trainer and example of mental toughness. I’d rather take a guy who is mentally and technically sound than a guy that has a lot of muscles or explosiveness. If all things are equal then that’s when the 10% of your physical gifts could help you to win in a fight. But other things are not equal: people have different surroundings, different coaches, different problems in their life, that is why it’s always important to win a mental battle in preparation for the fight.
A lot of people heard about your victorious team Alpha Male. How much time and money did it take to become a UFC fighter?
It’s a unique path for everyone. Some people have family support, others have husbands or wife, who financially support them, some people have to work in addition. There are a few people whom I can personally help but I can’t do that for everyone. I tell the fighters that until you make it, it is always a struggle and that’s a part of the story. Our gym is unique. What we’ve done here at the gym is we put everything in one place, which is pretty rare. We have a 40,000 square foot facility and we have everything under the sun that you need in order to get to the highest level of performance. I have extremely professional staff that can add value to anyone who crosses the threshold of my gym.
As an MMA fighter you had forty-six fights in your career with 35 wins and 11 losses. What did you learn from your losses?
I had some good lessons from my losses. I lost twice with the same guy. In the first fight I did a sneaky move and then I got caught with a big punch, and the fight ended earlier than I expected. The next time I fought him in the championship fight. I broke my hand in the first round. In the third round I dislocated my thumb and so for the whole five rounds I had one hand and then from the last round I had no hands. That was a very powerful fight and even though it was a loss I fought really hard and gained a lot of respect. I was more satisfied with this fight compared to the others. I think effort and not just in the fight but in preparation negates feeling bad after. There are things that we can control and things that we can’t control and we mentally should be prepared for both of them.
Could you tell us more about your entrepreneur path and how could you manage so many different projects?
I love business and I think it is very similar to fighting where you just believe you can do anything and then you find a way to do it. My parents lead me by example because they’ve always worked hard and showed me that no matter how many times you fall, the most important thing is how many times you get up and move forward. My dad is a builder and he helped me a lot with my first gym and later in the real estate projects. My mom when I was in the 7th grade opened a little coffee shop. That was a big eye opener for me because we had always struggled with money. I have an Acai company (healthy berry sorbet) that we just started with my partners from Brazil. I’ve also produced with my friends the movie “Green Rush” and successfully sold it to Lionsgate content platform.

Another big project is an online university that would allow fighters from all over the world to train with the best coaches via an educational online platform. It will be an international platform where fighters could see the lessons from top performers, get a piece of advice from best coaches and I hope it could become a hub where people can buy specific programs and they can come in and enjoy a team or hire a coach no matter of their geographical location.
What are the five things that you are most grateful for?
First and foremost, obviously my beautiful wife and amazing kids. Second, I am grateful for my freedom, that means the ability to dedicate my time and energy where I want to put it. The third thing which I’m grateful for is the ability to help other people. I’ve had an impact on a lot of people’s lives and I feel that it always comes back to me. I feel grateful for my parents. I talk with them every single day and my mom was at my house this morning helping out with the babies and my dad’s birthday is today, I still have to call him (smiles). And then the last thing is that I’m still alive and I’m going to keep going and do more stuff.
If I will give you an envelope with the date of your death, would you open it?
No, I don’t think so. I think I would probably not do that just because it would be nice to have the envelope on the wall as a reminder to myself to live every day to the fullest.
What advice would you give yourself going back to being a 10 years old boy?
I would say cheesy but still powerful advice, like follow your passion and the money will come. When I was a kid, my mom always had on the refrigerator one of those calendars with many motivational quotes and other things. I put the most inspirational phrases from this calendar throughout my gym walls and in my room. I believe that nothing is impossible and that absolutely everything can be achieved if you go ahead and don’t let fears lead you astray.