When Team Alpha Male chief Urijah Faber hit the scales as an alternate on Friday, it was very much a surprise. Faber, whose student Song Yadong fights at UFC on ESPN 8 in Jacksonville, FL this weekend, clocked in as a lightweight. With no lightweight fights scheduled.
Why then was there a need to weigh in at all?
The answer later turned out to be that Song was still struggling with visa issues. Those are issues he’d addressed during the media day, speaking to outlets including Cageside Press. They’d also come up weeks prior, with opponent Marlon Vera even announcing the fight was off at one point.
“Athletes are required to us a P1 visa to fight in the U.S.,” Yadong explained via translator. However, on his current trip to the States, he’d entered on a visitor visa. “That does not allow [me] to fight. The government has been shot down for the immigration stuff. We wouldn’t have enough time to do it, but right now, we’ve already cleared all this.”
Song believed, he said, that Vera’s manager was simply the victim of misinformation, when his opponent originally announced the fight as off. But then again, Faber hit the scales Friday morning, just to be safe.
Something of a mystery. Though it doesn’t look like Faber will be needed in the end. He took to social media Friday to say that he’ll be riding the bench for this one.
“Putting in the A team. @yadongsong ready to shine!” Faber wrote on his official Instagram account. Noting that fellow TAM alum Darren Elkins would be in action as well, the “California Kid” added “Had about 12 hours to get my juices flowing, visualization self belief on point (that was about it)! Hard to turn down a good time, a tough opponent and a sack of cash… especially on my birthday! So glad I’m sitting the bench, everyone’s in for a treat Saturday.”