Sacramento State partners with MMA great to create new pathway to education and athletic competition through Combat U
January 19, 2024
Sacramento State and UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber have teamed up to offer a new program that will give students opportunities for education and competition in combat sports.
Combat Sports and Martial Arts University – Combat U – is a first-of-its-kind program offered through a partnership with Faber’s nearby Ultimate Fitness gym, one of the top mixed martial arts (MMA) training facilities in the country.
President Luke Wood and Faber announced creation of Combat U during a Jan. 18 news conference on campus.
Students will train under world-champion athletes and current and former MMA professionals in wrestling, muay thai, jiu jitsu, and boxing.
“We’re doing this because we’re creating a pathway to professional sports for those who are interested in combat sports,” Wood said. “We’re using this as an opportunity to create access to college for people who would never go to college, first-generation, low-income students. We want them to know they are college material. We’ll fight for you to make sure you create a better life for yourself and your family.”
Faber will serve as executive coach for Combat U. The program is open to all Sac State students, women and men, and designed for participants of all backgrounds and various experience and competition levels.
“This is something I feel has needed to happen for a long time,” Faber said. “We’re going to be offering (this to) the whole student body, and we’re calling for fighters from across the nation and across the globe to come here and get an education and get the aid and structure to pursue a real career in fighting. For me, I think that’s the coolest thing.”
Combat U was developed because of students who train at Faber’s gym while taking classes at Sac State. Freshman Aranjot Kaur, who is from India and holds an amateur MMA record of 3-0, enrolled because of the University’s proximity to Ultimate Fitness and was hoping for training opportunities at Sac State. When she learned that Wood, an avid amateur boxer, would be the new president of Sac State, she pushed for the program.
“Now that it’s official, the main thing that I’m happy about is all the resources they’re going to offer us, and the scholarships,” Kaur said. “This is going to provide an opportunity for all the athletes around the globe who want to follow their passion and … also want to pursue their education. It’s going to change the game of MMA combat sports all around the globe.”
Ethan Krieger, a fourth-year Kinesiology major, says he got involved in MMA at Faber’s gym to make friends and gain confidence.
“It’s a great thing for students,” Krieger said. “It’s kind of hard to get into martial arts if you’re unfamiliar with it. If it’s already on campus, that will be so cool.”
Combat U will launch in the Fall 2024 semester, but training begins this February. An information session for anyone interested will be at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at Faber's Ultimate Fitness gym on Folsom Boulevard, just blocks from campus.
“I’m so excited for students and our prospective students and our community to be able to offer Combat U and combat sports to so many. To be able to offer a program that can attract prospective students from across the world is very unique to Sacramento.” -- Mark Orr, Sac State Athletics director
Combat U will be managed through Sacramento State’s Athletics department in collaboration with Ultimate Fitness, giving participants the same safety and sports medicine support as other competitive athletes at the University.
Combat U will offer students who participate scholarships and access to other resources they would not otherwise have if training in MMA outside the CSU system. Because participants must be enrolled at Sac State, it also provides a pathway to an education many may not otherwise have, including those from underserved communities.
“I’m so excited for students and our prospective students and our community to be able to offer Combat U and combat sports to so many,” said Athletics Director Mark Orr. “To be able to offer a program that can attract prospective students from across the world is very unique to Sacramento.”
Professional MMA fighter Hector Fajardo will direct Combat U.
“I have a lot of excitement because I was one of the students,” said Fajardo, who graduated from San Jose State. “There was nothing like this when I was coming up. It’s never been done before. There’s never been a college resource like this before, especially in MMA. I’m excited to lead it and make MMA a little bit more mainstream on the college campus and help the campus grow.”
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