Exclusive – Urijah Faber, Sacramento State launch world-First MMA program for students

Urijah Faber launches worlds first MMA student program with Sacramento State

Urijah Faber and Sacramento State University president J. Luke Wood are set to make history with a revolutionary collegiate program that’s meant to guide young aspiring fighters and give them a foot in the door to the fight game.

A trailblazer in MMA, Faber has towed the line between fighting and being a coach himself for many years. He runs a very successful gym called Team Alpha Male, which has seen rise to multiple UFC champions. Now, thanks to the wit of one student traveling to Sacramento State from overseas, paired with a flourishing relationship between Urijah Faber and president J. Luke Wood, the world’s first-ever collegiate MMA program will be coming to life in Northern California.

Urijah Faber

Speaking to LowKick MMA reporter Makoa Goble, Urijah Faber detailed this revolutionary new program, which is to be called Combat U. Combat U will help students develop as mixed martial artists while also giving them a promotion to fight for, as Faber owns his own promotion called A1 Combat.

Urijah Faber details Combat U and its inception

When asked how the idea of such a revolutionary program came to be, Faber explained a few factors that led to it. He spoke of how President Wood was a fan of combat sports, and actually even trained at Faber’s gym. Then, a female mixed martial artist from India got into contact with President Wood and told him how she decided to go to the school because of how close it was to the Team Alpha Male gym.

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All of these factors led to an idea, and it was a very brilliant one. How about a collegiately backed program that is aimed to usher in an entirely new generation of combat sports athletes? It was made even more convenient by the fact that Faber’s gym is so close to the campus. As Faber continued to explain things, it was as if all the building blocks perfectly fell into place, as if it was all meant to be.

Faber on the unclear pathway for young fighters, and what the program could mean for them

“We have a strong history of being a host to young athletes (at Team Alpha Male), but they’ve always had to take a fork in the road: pursue academics, or pursue a career in the fight game,” Urijah Faber said. “…We actually have some of our current fighters that are interested in being a part of the program.”

Urijah Faber UFC 290
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

“So, we already have guys that were waiting to go back into their education afterwards (after their fight career is over), that is going to start doing it (going back to school) now. It’s still really raw, there’s still really no pathway. I’ve got a bunch of things outside of this that I’m working on to help really get that dialled in.”

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Urijah Faber would go on to speak about how he’d like to work in conjunction with what the UFC is already doing, which is trying to open the floodgates and more easily allow aspiring fighters to walk the path. He brought up how more classic sports, such as football or basketball, already had very set paths for athletes to follow. The sport of MMA, however, does not have the same easy canals for young prospects to float down.

Young prospects must lead a difficult life of balancing working, training, and fighting. If a fighter is lucky, somebody will invest in their future and allow them to focus solely on training and fighting. However, this could be considered quite rare, and most fighters just have to work while also undergoing gruelling training and then pitting themselves against other young and hungry fighters in the cage.

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Now, though, everything could be changing. If the Combat U program at Sacramento State is a success, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more colleges around the country and world provide a similar program. All of which would supply young fighters with a solid support system to make following their dreams a little easier.

What are your thoughts on Urijah Faber and Combat U?