On July 2, UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz (17-1) will defend his title under the UFC banner for the first time when he finally gets a rematch with Urijah Faber (25-4), former WEC featherweight champion and the only person to ever defeat him.
The two first met at WEC 26 in March 2007 in what was Faber’s second title defense as featherweight champ. Faber won the bout via guillotine choke submission at 1:38 of the first round.
Since then, Faber has gone 7-3, including a unanimous decision over Eddie Wineland in his UFC debut last month. Cruz has gone 8-0 since he and Faber first fought, including two defenses of his bantamweight title.
The fight is extremely important to both fighters. Cruz gets to try and erase the only blemish on his record, Faber gets the chance to try and put the championship belt back around his waist, and they both get the opportunity to try and shut the other one up once and for all.
Cruz was asked on the Afternoon Press Box radio show last week about the origin of the bad blood between the two and if it provided extra motivation for the fight. Here’s what the champ had to say:
“I don’t really need motivation to fight Faber. He makes it real easy to be honest. I think that the bottom line is it started way back when we fought four years ago. I’m sure he let go that entire situation that had went down and I think that to be honest that he’s kind of a hater. I think that it gets under his skin to see me winning at all because I lost to him four years ago. If you ask me, I’m the one who should be more bitter than him and to me it sounds like he’s the bitter one and he’s going off and bad-mouthing me and saying I’m a terrible guy and he’s a nice guy, and whatever, I don’t really give a crap what Faber thinks to be honest. The bottom line is I gotta go in there and do what I’ve been doing and embarrass him. And if for five rounds I embarrass him that’s fine. If I finish him in 30 seconds that’s better. No matter what, all that matters is I get in there and school Urijah Faber and that’s what I’m excited for the opportunity to do. I’m training as hard as I’ve ever trained for this fight. That’s needless to say; I always train my butt off. You know, there’s a little bit of emotion in this fight. I’ve never really had that. I’ve never really had any kind of emotion behind my training and I’m just hungry for this fight. I’ve been hungry at this fight for four years. I’ve been foaming at the mouth for it and he’s going to get the best Dominick Cruz on July 2nd, that’s a guarantee.”
No doubt, both guys have evolved since their first fight. The question will be who has evolved more. Has Cruz truly progressed enough to the point where he can not only defeat Faber, but embarrass him at UFC 132? What say you?
You can listen to Dominick Cruz’s complete interview here: ProMMAnow.com presents: Afternoon Press Box with Dominick Cruz.