On Saturday night, Scott Jorgensen will have to punch one of his best friends in the face - and he can't wait.
Jorgensen faces off against Urijah Faber in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 17 finale Saturday night (TV: FX, event begins at 7 p.m. MDT, final bout begins approximately at 9:30 p.m.) in Las Vegas.
A three-time Pac-10 champion with the Boise State wrestling team, Jorgensen sought out Faber when he was a senior to tell Faber, then an assistant at UC Davis, that he was a fan of his mixed martial arts career.
Faber told Jorgensen to try it out, and soon enough became a mentor and training partner.
"It's really exciting for me," Jorgensen said. "I think it says a lot about us. If most guys had to be in this situation, they wouldn't want to do it. He's had a huge influence on my career, so I think it's going to be a great fight, a fun fight for me."
Jorgensen, 30, has compiled a 14-6 mark in the pro ranks, 3-2 in UFC bouts. After losing twice last year to two fighters who are a combined 50-9 in their careers, Jorgensen's last fight was a strong first-round win in December over John Albert in which he earned submission and fight of the night honors.
"I'm feeling great," Jorgensen said. "I think I stumbled early last year, but I went out and outperformed him in December. That gave me some good momentum."
Faber is ranked as the No. 2 bantamweight in the world in the UFC rankings, while Jorgensen is ranked seventh. Considering the two are among the best at their weight, and have multiple fight-of-the-night bonuses under their belts, "it was only so long before it was bound to happen," as Jorgensen said.
"We both know we're two of the top fighters in the world, so you can't say no forever," Faber told the Las Vegas Sun.
As the founder of Boise's Combat Fitness, Jorgensen has found success training here in the City of Trees, as opposed to being based in Las Vegas or larger cities, because his 7-year-old son is also in town, and there's the simple fact of geography.
"I don't feel distracted - I can focus on training, I can fly in specialists to help," Jorgensen said. "A lot of people ask me why Boise, but it's fit me well."
A win Saturday, especially considering he is a heavy underdog in the Las Vegas sportsbooks (nearly 4-1), would no doubt boost Jorgensen's profile and could put him in range for a title shot - but facing a fighter of Faber's caliber occupies all his attention.
"I think either way, it will help propel my career," Jorgensen said. "We're probably going to hang out after the fight, but on Saturday, we're not holding anything back."
Dave Southorn: 377-6420