Dominick Cruz (file photo) avenged his only loss Saturday night in Las Vegas at UFC 132. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Dominick Cruz finally got the monkey off his back at UFC 132, as the promotion's reigning bantamweight champion successfully defended his belt against the only man to ever beat him in Urijah Faber.
With his victory on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Cruz evened the score with “The California Kid,” furthering his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.
“I really felt that I had the opportunity to either make history or become history, and everything inside me said I was going to make history this evening, and I did it,” said Cruz in a postfight interview with UFC.com.
Cruz and Faber first met in 2007 at WEC 26, clashing over Faber's featherweight title. The bout ended quickly, with Faber sinking one of his trademark arm-in guillotines and forcing Cruz to submit just 98 seconds into the contest.
By contrast, tonight's bout could not have looked more different, as the five-round title tilt taxed and tested both Cruz and Faber's skill and resolve for a full 25 minutes. In the end, however, it was Cruz who was validated, his volume-punching and movement winning out in the eyes of the judges.
“I had to get [Faber's] timing,” said Cruz. “I knew that the knees up the middle were going to work, because he runs in real hard and powerful. It took me a minute to time him, because he feints and he is quick; but that fourth round, I finally had his timing. I landed that jump-knee, and I think I rocked him a little bit.”
Though the pre-fight buildup was filled with tension from both sides, Cruz gave Faber his due following the contest, complimenting the former champion's power on multiple occasions. Faber floored the champ several times during their rematch, but Cruz was always able to spring right back to his feet and reset his unpredictable standup attack.
In addition to the general distaste between the two parties, also easily noticed in the weeks leading up to the event was Cruz's growing irritation with questions about his loss to Faber. If the fighter has his way, he'll never again have to answer another query about the lone loss on his record.
“I wanted to go out there and get that loss back. I’m undefeated, now, baby,” said Cruz. “I think [the win] will get people to quit asking me if I’m going to get that loss back from Urijah, because I got it.”
Though he champ likely just earned the sweetest win of his career, Cruz has no plans to become content with his accomplishments. Rather, the champ's new, clean slate now has him scanning the horizon for future competition.
“Let's talk about me owning the title and keeping it for as long as possible. I’m hungry, baby. I’m going to keep staying hungry, and I’m going to keep winning.”