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Urijah Faber a true professional in WEC curtain call

In his final fight in WEC, Faber shows why he’s come so far in mixed martial arts

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Urijah Faber celebrates his win over Takeya Mizugaki during their bout at WEC 52 Thursday, November 11, 2010 at the Palms.

WEC 52

Urijah Faber and Takeya Mizugaki trade blows during their bout at WEC 52 Thursday, November 11, 2010 at the Palms. Launch slideshow »

Urijah Faber put the perfect exclamation point on his WEC career Thursday, submitting Takeya Mizugaki in the first round of their main event bantamweight fight at The Pearl at The Palms.

With the WEC set to merge into the UFC at the beginning of 2011, Thursday marked the final appearance Faber would make for the lighter-weight organization.

And as one might expect, Faber ended his run with the WEC in the same manner he’s carried himself throughout his entire mixed martial arts career — as a true professional.

In addition to dominating Mizugaki, Faber showed in many ways Thursday why he’s become such a star in the WEC and why his popularity should only grow in the UFC.

It started with the 31-year-old fighter making weight for his 135-pound debut, a mark he hasn’t been at since his days of college wrestling.

Faber took the cut as an opportunity to relate more to his wealth of fans and basically video blogged his entire experience on a website called eatlikeachamp.com.

By the time he made the 136-pound limit this week, Faber says more than 100 fans had joined him and participated in his online weight-loss drive.

“It was easier than I expected,” Faber said of the weight cut. “As soon as I put it in my mind I wanted to be a 135-pounder, I just needed a real clean diet. I had a lot of fun. I had people do it along with me. Nutrition has always been a big part of my life.”

Dropping weight for the first time in years can sometimes have an impact on a fighter’s performance, especially in the later rounds.

Faber, however, seemed perfectly at home in the cage Thursday, despite some online blogs that questioned how healthy he appeared during weigh-ins the day before.

“I definitely don’t think it took anything out of me,” Faber said. “I could have done that for 40 minutes straight.”

Faber’s professionalism was on hand at the conclusion of the fight as well, which ended with Josh Rosenthal calling a stop to the action after it became obvious that Mizugaki had been unconscious from Faber’s rear-naked choke.

Instead of throwing Mizugaki off of him, Faber followed a general rule a percentage of fighters likely don’t even know exists — stay still until doctors have stabilized the unconscious fighter.

“The referee told me that after that happened, Urijah stayed prone until the doctors arrived, which is the proper thing to do and the sportsmanlike thing to do,” said WEC General Manager Reed Harris. “We appreciate that.”

The submission earned Faber the coveted “Submission of the Night” award, which is given at every WEC and UFC event and was worth a $10,000 bonus at Thursday’s card.

Faber was appreciative of the award but couldn’t help but think of his Alpha Male teammate Joseph Benavidez, who submitted Wagnney Fabiano on the night’s undercard.

Feeling as though Benavidez’s performance was also worth some extra cash, Faber announced he had decided to split his bonus with him.

It’s for reasons like these that those who know mixed martial arts are excited to see what Faber is capable of with a brand like the UFC backing him.

It’s already speculated he would make a great candidate to coach a season of the reality series “The Ultimate Fighter,” although no formal plans for him to do so have been announced.

Whatever is in store for Faber, it should be fun for fans to watch. According to the star himself, he still has a lot to accomplish in the sport.

“I’ve got a list of goals about four pages long at home on a wall,” Faber said.

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at LVSunFighting

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