By: Mike Gilman
On Saturday, June 4th at UFC 199, perhaps the longest running active feud in Mixed Martial Arts will have it’s third installment when Dominick Cruz defends his Bantamweight title against former WEC Featherweight Champion, and high level elder statesmen, Urijah Faber.
For Cruz, this is the Champion’s first title defense since reclaiming the strap from former Team Alpha Male standout, turned enemy, TJ Dillashaw. The fight was the culmination of a long road back to the top after suffering multiple injuries to both legs. Most were unsure if Cruz would still have the agility and athleticism needed to beat the younger Dillashaw, but after suffering yet another injury to his foot before and during the fight, Cruz was able to out strike Dillashaw en route to a split decision victory.
For Faber, this is perhaps the last chance he might ever have at UFC Gold. The longtime WEC Featherweight Champion has not been able to repeat his title success in the promotion, going 0-3 in title fights since entering the UFC in March of 2011. With that being said, Faber just won’t go away. Since losing to Renan Barao in February of 2014, Faber has gone 3-0 in the Bantamweight division to earn what could be his last shot at the belt.
When these two first met back in 2007, it was Urijah Faber who was on top. Fighting at 145 pounds, Faber was able to quickly defeat Cruz with a guillotine choke at just 1:38 into the first round. Faber was so dominant at that time that it seemed as if Cruz might be just another head on Faber’s wall.
But don’t tell that to Cruz…
Since the loss to Faber in 2007, Dominick Cruz has been perfect. 12 wins in a row including 6 wins in Bantamweight title fights. Perhaps Cruz’ proudest moment was when he was able to get his rematch against the only man to ever beat him, Urijah Faber. Their second fight proved to be a much closer fight than their first affair, as the two men battled back and forth over 5 rounds, with Cruz edging out Faber in a razor thin, yet unanimous decision.
So who wins now?
As Cruz showed in his two fights since returning from injury, he is both technical and lethal. He can box your head off for 5 rounds or he can bounce it off the mat and end the fight early. Even with all of the injuries, it does not look like the Cruz has lost a step since beating current Flyweight Champion, Demtrious Johnson back in 2011. At 31 years old, “The Dominator” seems to be sitting pretty in the prime of his career.
Urijah Faber on the other hand is arguably entering the twilight of his career, but you need not look further than his resume to see why that might not matter. Since losing to Cruz in 2011, Faber has won 8 fights, stopping 6 of those opponents with chokes. Simply put, he’s still as dangerous as ever. Should Faber be able to keep some more distance between himself and Father Time, he has the submission game and power in his hands to be a nightmare for anyone in the division, including Cruz.
Count me in as one of the many who are looking forward to this fight more than the actual main event between Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping.