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Urijah Faber to retire after UFC on FOX 22 fight

Urijah Faber, one of the most historically pivotal fighters in U.S. MMA history, announced that he would be retiring after his December 17th fight with Brad Pickett at UFC on FOX 22. The fight will take place at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Faber's home town.

Faber made the announcement today on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.

Faber, 37, was pushed to be the top star of World Extreme Cage fighting when UFC purchased the company in 2007 to have a separate property to put on NBC Sports Network. Due to UFC having exclusivity with Spike, and NBC Sports Network wanting to pay for a regular MMA product, UFC purchased an existing company.

Faber, as WEC featherweight champion, immediately became a major favorite, and after a 2008 fight with Jens Pulver drew tremendous television ratings, the idea that fighters under 155 pounds couldn't draw in MMA was dead for good. Faber remained a major star, and the PPV success of his losing challenge to Jose Aldo in 2010 led to UFC closing down WEC and bringing the lighter weight divisions to the company starting at the end of 2010.

Faber's WEC title run was from March 17th, 2006, when he defeated Cole Escovedo, and he then retained the title five times before losing to Mike Brown on November 5, 2008. From there, Faber lost six straight title matches in challenging for either the featherweight or bantamweight titles.

He had struggled the past two years, losing three of his last four fights, including a decision to Jimmie Rivera and a far more one-sided title loss to Dominick Cruz than in their second meeting years earlier.

He also had recruited a number of fighters, including Chad Mendes and T.J. Dillashaw, and his Team Alpha Male in Sacramento was considered the top camp in the U.S. for smaller fighters.