Courtesy of WEC
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | 7 p.m.
If the UFC has missed anything in recent events, it’s bitterness between its headlining fighters.
Out of 11 cards so far this year, only one main event — a UFC 126 middleweight title bout between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort — has pitted two fighters against each other who undeniably didn’t get along.
Saturday’s UFC 132 bantamweight championship bout between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, therefore, comes as a welcome change of pace. Cruz and Faber share a long-running feud leading into their main event encounter at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“Bottom line is, there’s bad blood there,” Faber said. “We’re going to have to get it all out.”
Cruz (17-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Faber (25-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) didn’t get a positive first impression of each other when they met before their fight at WEC 26 four years ago.
Cruz complained about not getting promoted on the same level as Faber for the bout and started signing his name over his opponent’s picture on the event poster.
Faber found it disrespectful and responded by submitting Cruz via guillotine choke 1:38 into the fight.
“For the record, we didn’t become friends after the last time we fought,” Faber said. “I think that’s because Dominick lost so quickly.”
Cruz admitted to some immaturity back then. He said he didn’t take his obligation to sell a fight or be accessible to the media seriously.
But he feels Faber held an unnecessary grudge after their meeting. Cruz doesn’t do much to reconcile the relationship, either, and rarely passes at an opportunity to needle Faber.
“I’m a good sport,” Cruz said. “I will have no problem, especially after the win I’m going to get, being happy and shaking hands with Faber.”
Faber could be heard laughing faintly in the background of a conference call when Cruz made the suggestion about his eventual victory.
Faber said he had never disliked any of the other opponents he faced in his career. But Cruz’s personality has a way of frustrating him.
“I have a hard time being enemies with people,” Faber said. “Dominick made it kind of easy. He’s got an interesting combo of throwing himself pity parties and giving himself a lot of credit for little things. What’s going to happen at the end of this? He’s going to get another loss and keep his cool? I hope so.”
Cruz believes one of Faber’s downfalls could be assuming too much about him based on their first fight. Not only does Cruz believe he’s grown up, he also says his results speak for his improvements in the cage.
Cruz has won eight straight and taken the bantamweight belt, which he’s successfully defended twice, in the process.
“I’m in a lot better place now after my loss,” Cruz said. “I know how the fight game works. I’ve definitely gotten respect and I’m excited to get a lot more.”
The rivalry between Cruz and Faber will simmer in the next few days before they meet. Cruz hopes that will finally mark the end of it.
“Once we punch each other in the face, I feel like fighting fixes everything,” Cruz said.
Faber responded: “That’s like the opposite of what my mom used to say, but we’ll see.”
“Beating the crap out of each other is pretty good therapy.”