Cruz Stays at the Top

By Brian Knapp Jul 2, 2011
Dominick Cruz waited for more than four years for another crack at Urijah Faber, and he made sure he did not let the opportunity pass him by.

Cruz (18-1, 1-0 UFC) bobbed, weaved, punched, kicked and wrestled his way to a unanimous decision over Faber, as he defended his bantamweight crown in the UFC 132 headliner on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Scores were 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47 for Cruz, who avenged the only defeat of his career and cemented his place atop the 135-pound division.

Cruz utilized all his tools against “The California Kid,” lateral movement chief among them. He pressed forward relentlessly and landed brilliant multi-strike, multi-level combinations throughout the memorable 25-minute encounter, tagging Faber with blows to the head, body and legs.

“I knew he was going to come in awkward like that,” Faber said. “I decided to come straight forward. I didn’t feel like I was in danger at any point, but it is what it is.”

More than one round was too close to call, as the evenly matched bantamweights went toe-to-toe with one another for five rounds. Faber found a home for his powerful straight right hand on several occasions and knocked Cruz off balance with it in the fourth round, sending the champion into scramble mode. He recovered soon after, and the two resumed their duel in the center of the Octagon.

“I gotta say, Urijah hits hard,” Cruz said. “His hands are very fast. Urijah’s hands are good. Don’t [sleep] on his hands.”

The fifth round was arguably Cruz’s best. He backed up Faber (25-5, 1-1 UFC) with a textbook flying knee and scored with multiple takedowns. Faber was quick to return to his feet each time, but Cruz often beat him to the punch and left him swinging at air.

“I hit him with a jumping knee, and that rocked him,” Cruz said. “He’s tough, man. He’s a veteran, and he did well to recover from it.”

The defeat halted Faber’s two-fight winning streak.

“I knew it was going to be a tough fight,” Faber said. “I thought I landed the heavier punches. I had him rocked a couple of times, but congratulations to Dominick; He won. It wasn’t enough of an output on my side, and I didn’t finish him. I felt like I won the fight, but congratulations to Dominick.”

Leben Waylays Silva in 27 Seconds

In less than 30 seconds, Chris Leben chopped down one of his heroes.

Leben (26-7, 12-6 UFC) stopped Brazilian icon and former Pride Fighting Championships middleweight titleholder Wanderlei Silva on first-round strikes in the co-main event. It was over in just 27 seconds, as Leben won for the fourth time in five appearances.

“I can’t believe it’s real,” Leben said. “Holy s--t.”

Ever aggressive, Silva (33-11-1, 1 NC, 3-6 UFC) unleashed an opening salvo that backed up his red-headed opponent. However, Leben clipped the Brazilian with a left hook behind the ear, wobbling the fan favorite. Silva tried to clinch and recover, but he was met with a series of powerful uppercuts that brought him to his knees. A string of brutal Leben lefts finished it and left “The Axe Murderer” face down on the mat.

“I’m going to tell you where he messed up,” Leben said. “He hit me right on the button. You know what happens when [opponents] hit me there. He cracked me, and I fired back on auto-pilot. It was a heavy shot right on my nose. I think it might be broken.”

Silva, who turns 35 on Sunday, has lost six of his last eight bouts.

“Wanderlei, I love you. You are my hero,” Leben said. “Thank you for honoring me with that fight.”

Siver Edges Wiman, Wins Fourth Straight

Dennis Siver File Photo

Siver edged Wiman on points.
Dennis Siver survived a harrowing second round and eked out a controversial unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 alum Matt Wiman in a featured lightweight affair. All three cageside judges saw it 29-28 for Siver, who has pieced together a four-fight winning streak inside the promotion’s deepest division.

Siver (19-7, 8-4 UFC) stuffed Wiman’s early takedown attempts and controlled the standup for much of the encounter. However, Wiman grounded the Russian-born German kickboxer in the second round and tattooed him with heavy elbows from inside his guard, opening a pair of cuts on his forehead. By the time the period ended, Siver’s head and torso were covered in blood.

Round three was close and competitive, as Wiman (13-6, 7-4 UFC) connected with a nice overhand right and scored with a trip takedown. Siver had his moments, too, highlighted by a precision front kick to the face and thudding leg kicks. He closed in better position, as he swept Wiman off his feet with a low kick, attacked with punches from the top and
threatened with a guillotine choke as the horn sounded.

“It was a very close decision. That’s a fact. I don’t know who won,” Siver said. “Next time, I’m going to try to improve my takedown defense. Altogether, I was satisfied with the fight. This guy was horribly strong, and it was very hard for me to hit him.”

Ortiz Guillotine Submits Bader

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz submitted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Ryan Bader with an arm-in guillotine choke less than two minutes into the first round of their featured light heavyweight duel. Bader asked out of the fight 1:56 into round one.

Ortiz (16-8-1, 15-8-1 UFC) buckled Bader with a short right hand, pounced on his fallen foe and cinched the choke on his exposed neck. Bader (12-2, 5-2 UFC) struggled briefly to free himself, but Ortiz’s grip was not to be broken, and surrender became the only option. It was Ortiz’s first submission since he finished Yuki Kondo with a neck crank at UFC 29 in December 2000. He had not won a fight in nearly five years.

“I hit him with a right hook, and I saw his knees buckle, so I just pushed forward, got on top and sunk an arm-in guillotine,” said Ortiz, who tied UFC hall of famers Matt Hughes and Randy Couture for most career appearances in the Octagon (24). “A lot of wrestlers tap to this. I secured my elbow on the inside. He tried to pull his head out, but I was strong. He wasn’t going anywhere.”

Condit Flying Knee Wipes Out Kim

In a brilliant performance that could launch him into title contention, former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit blasted the previously unbeaten Dong Hyun Kim with a picture-perfect flying knee and follow-up punches en route to a clean first-round finish. The end to their 170-pound showcase came 2:58 into round one.

Kim (14-1-1, 1 NC, 5-1, 1 NC UFC) delivered a takedown inside the first minute, only to be swept by the experienced and well-rounded Condit. The judoka never again took it to the ground. Condit (27-5, 4-1 UFC) softened him with kicks to the body, as he patiently set up the finish. The 27-year-old Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative launched himself into the air and fired the knee, sending the dazed South Korean to the ground in a seated position next to the cage. Condit trailed him there and polished off Kim with unanswered punches.

With that, Condit -- a winner in 12 of his last 13 appearances -- likely established himself as the next top contender for the UFC welterweight crown.

“How about it, [UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva?” Condit asked. “Am I ready for a title shot or what?”


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