Only once before have bantamweights shouldered the marquee in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson hope it becomes a trend.
Cruz checked in at 135 pounds for his title defense against Johnson (135) in the UFC Live 6 main event on Saturday at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. It will mark the first time a promotional championship will be on the line outside of a pay-per-view event in more than four years. The six other men slated for main card duty, including heavyweight co-headliners Pat Barry (243) and Stefan Struve (261), also met their contracted weight requirements without incident at Friday’s official weigh-in.
An Alliance MMA representative, Cruz will carry a career-best nine-fight winning streak into the match. He last appeared at UFC 132 in July, when he avenged the only defeat of his career and outpointed former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber en route to a unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Other wins over Faber’s Team Alpha Male protégé, Joseph Benavidez (twice), the world-ranked Scott Jorgensen, former WEC bantamweight champion Brian Bowles and reigning Tachi Palace Fights flyweight titleholder Ian McCall bolster Cruz’s resume. Each of the 26-year-old Tucson, Ariz., native’s last three fights, all five-rounders, have reached the judges.
Johnson has rattled off four consecutive victories since his decision loss to American Top Team’s Brad Pickett in April 2010. The 5-foot-3 AMC Pankration dynamo last fought at UFC 130 in May, when he took a controversial unanimous decision from former WEC bantamweight boss Miguel Torres. Johnson, 25, has secured six of his nine professional wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
UFC Live 6 -- which airs on the Versus network at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT -- will also feature a welterweight duel pairing Charlie Brenneman (171) with Anthony Johnson (171) and a lightweight rematch pitting Matt Wiman (156) against “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 6 winner Mac Danzig (155). Meanwhile, at 5:40 p.m. ET/2:40 p.m. PT, the UFC will stream the remaining six bouts to its Facebook page: Yves Edwards (155) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (155), Paul Sass (155) vs. Michael Johnson (156), Mike Easton (135) vs. Byron Bloodworth (138*), Shane Roller (156) vs. T.J. Grant (155), Josh Neer (171) vs. Keith Wisniewski (170) and Walel Watson (134.5) vs. Joseph Sandoval (134).
UFC Live 6
Saturday, Oct. 1
UFC Bantamweight Championship
Dominick Cruz (135) vs. Demetrious Johnson (135)
Pat Barry (243) vs. Stefan Struve (261)
Charlie Brenneman (171) vs. Anthony Johnson (171)
Matt Wiman (156) vs. Mac Danzig (155)
Yves Edwards (155) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (155)
Paul Sass (155) vs. Michael Johnson (156)
Mike Easton (135) vs. Byron Bloodworth (138*)
Shane Roller (156) vs. T.J. Grant (155)
Josh Neer (171) vs. Keith Wisniewski (170)
Walel Watson (134.5) vs. Joseph Sandoval (134)
* Bloodworth weighed in two pounds above the limit and will fight at that weight. The fighter has been fined for the infraction.