SACRAMENTO - On Sunday night, when Urijah Faber received a phone call from UFC President Dana White he knew something was up.
"He (Dana White) doesn't call to chit chat very often. I pick up the phone and he is like alright here is the situation Dominick is out can you step in 3 and a half weeks for the title," Faber told News10. "I gave it about ten seconds thought and then it was like let's do it man."
Faber (30-6) will replace Dominick Cruz at UFC 169 for the UFC Bantamweight Title on February 1st in New Jersey.
Cruz, the reigning champion, who had not fought since October of 2011 after injuring his knee was looking to make a comeback and fight the interim champion Renan Barao (33-1) to unify the belt. However, Cruz injured his groin during training and was forced to relinquish his title giving Faber a huge opportunity.
"I'm not a really materialistic guy but having that strap means a lot to me, it is an important part of the legacy." said Faber. "I know what type of fighter I am, I know what I am made of, but having that strap will be the icing on the cake."
Despite the short notice, momentum may be on "The California Kid's" side. In 2013, he won four straight fights including a second round finish in December over highly ranked Michael McDonald in front of his hometown crowd at Sleep Train Arena. After the fight, White declared Faber was back and all but promised him a title shot in 2014, but no one including Faber thought that shot would come so soon.
"If there is an opportunity you may not ever get again, who knows how this world works, then you should take it and make the most of it," said Faber. "I feel really good, basically having one of the best years in the UFC that I ever had, and to roll off the four big wins into a title fight is perfect for me."
The title fight will also give Faber a chance at redemption after he lost to Barao in July of 2012 for the interim title. Barao broke Faber's rib early in the bout and controlled the pace of the fight winning by unanimous decision.
"He did a great job of controlling the fight by slowing things down and dictating when we fought," remembered Faber. "I can't let him slow me down, and I need to be in a better mindset which I am now. I am coming off a great year. I just want this. And I am at a point where it is mine for the taking."