When talking about the top 135 pounder in the world, Dominick Cruz stands alone. | File Photo: Sherdog.com
Dominick Cruz proved once again why he’s the top-ranked bantamweight in the world, using a varied attack to turn away game challenger Demetrious Johnson in the main event of UFC Live 6.
Known for his skilled footwork and unorthodox approach to offense, Cruz's tempo was much less frenetic on Saturday night at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. According to Cruz, the style change was by design, as he used his advantages in the size and strength departments to control his smaller foe for large stretches of their five-round bantamweight title tilt.
“We came in with a different game plan for Demetrious. I think it puts me up there pretty high, because I fought this fight different than I’ve fought any other fight,” Cruz told UFC.com in a postfight interview. “He's ranked No. 5 in the world, and I went out there and came at him with a completely different style than I’ve done in any other fight. That's what I was trying to do, just show a different element in my game and mix it up. This is MMA. This isn't all one style. You've got to be able to mix it up, and that's what I did out there, so I’m proud of myself.”
Though many have dubbed Johnson the fastest man in the UFC, Cruz did not go that far following his war with “Mighty Mouse.” However, the champion did give the challenger his due, crediting him for displaying great toughness and determination in their contest.
“He's just as quick as Faber, Benavidez, Bowles, Jorgensen. The difference is that everybody uses that quickness differently. It all comes down to game plan and how you fight somebody,” said Cruz. “What was surprising was his willingness to just stand in the pocket and bang, because I nailed him with some shots, and he just kept coming forward. He's a tough dude, and he's got a lot of will and a lot of heart. But again, I was expecting that.”
During round three, Cruz appeared to have victory assured, as he ducked under in the clinch and locked up a rear waist-lock, suplexing Johnson shortly thereafter. Once on the ground, the champion quickly took his foe's back, digging in his hooks and flattening out Johnson. Transitioning to a body triangle, Cruz fished for a rear-naked choke but could not find the squeeze to finish the fight, and Johnson escaped the position.
“I was surprised [he escaped the choke]. He was gurgling, but he willed it out,” said Cruz. “I had that body triangle, but I couldn't quite get it along his stomach. If I could have gotten it a little more around [him], I would have kept the choke in, but it was slippery out there.”
Though Johnson avoided the finish, he could not stop the champion from earning the nod on all three judges scorecards, as Cruz continued to control his opponent with superior positioning in the championship rounds.
While Cruz's next challenge must still be decided, the bantamweight king vows to take on all comers, hoping to eventually become the sport's top pound-for-pound talent.
“I’m excited to watch the Bowles and Faber fight, because I fought both of them,” said Cruz. “I want to see who comes out on top of that one and see where everybody settles down after these next couple of wins that people get in the division.
“I'm willing to fight anybody. I’m the best in the world in my division, and I’m working towards the top pound-for-pound. That's a goal of mine. Right now there are some great people ahead of me in the pound-for-pound rankings. I just want to give God all the glory for what I’m doing.”