Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will defend his 135-pound crown against Urijah Faber in the UFC 132 main event on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. A rematch of their March 2007 encounter, which Faber won via submission, it marks the first time that bantamweights will carry the marquee on pay-per-view.
The loss to Faber, which came at 145 pounds, remains the lone blemish on Cruz’s resume, as “The Dominator” has since rattled off eight consecutive victories en route to becoming the world’s top bantamweight. Will Cruz exact revenge in the rematch?
Sherdog.com recently touched base with dozens of professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinions on the Cruz-Faber title fight:
Eddie Millis: I think this one goes to the judges. I have Cruz winning by unanimous decision.
Sean Loeffler: I have trained with Dominick a bunch of times, which reminds me of a time long, long ago when me and Brodie Farber were on a little island off of the coast somewhere in the middle of the sea [and] stranded with only two things. The first thing was Travis Browne, so we knew we would be welcomed with open arms if we ran into any islanders; the second was a volleyball we named Wilson. It was just after a plane crash that we washed up on shore, and [to make a] long story short, we used the luggage and packages from the FedEx flight we were on to survive. Travis crushed coconuts with his bare hands and Brodie even did some dental surgery on me with an ice skate -- it hurt. We attempted escape many times on a raft made of bamboo and failed, but our last attempt worked. With long beards and dirty bodies, the three of us escaped, but we lost Wilson on our voyage off the island. We all screamed in sadness; we were like castaways then. After years on the island, we came home. Our wives had remarried and we each delivered one package that we saved from the island. Travis’ package was a neck brace for his next opponent. Brodie’s package was Rosetta Stone DVDs in Thai delivered to Steve Gable. And my package was an intricate game plan in a FedEx box instructing Dominick to begin using angles and extreme body movement, as well as takedown defense, to stifle Faber and defend the title. So yeah, it’s pretty much a done deal. Cruz wins.
Ricardo Liborio: Big chance to be the “Fight of the year.” I’ll have to go with Cruz in this one. He got a really bad taste in his mouth since the last time that they fought.
Dale Hartt: Normally, I pick guys predominantly based on wrestling if the advantage in everything else is negligible, but I think that Cruz has such superior timing and footwork [that] it will nullify Urijah’s wrestling, forcing him to take shots from too far. If this fight happened before Faber’s slump, I would be picking him, but Cruz is on the way up and Uriah’s performances of late have been less then spectacular. That being said, Urijah’s ability to be elusive on his feet with his speculator gas tank and great explosiveness will make this a fight. I pick Cruz.
Ron Foster: I think Cruz is going to be too much for Faber to deal with. Cruz will win with much better striking.
Keith Berry: I’m taking Cruz in this one. I’ve been making picks based on who I like, so now I’m going to take who I actually think is going to win. I think Faber is the same, just at a different weight, and Cruz has really stepped it up. I see Cruz being faster and more precise in the striking department, and his takedown defense is good, too, so I’m saying Cruz by decision.
Tom Gavrilos: Faber is certainly smart enough to change up his game plan, and I believe we will see him try to cut off the Octagon and set up his shots more effectively. I just don’t think he has the tools to slow Dominick’s multi-faceted attack and deal with his superior speed and vast reach and height advantage. Urijah has endless heart, so I don’t see Dominick putting him away; Cruz via decision.
Ray Elbe: Faber is going to win this fight with ground-and-pound so vicious it makes “Obamanomics” make sense.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: Faber caught Cruz before, when he was a novice and a wrestler. Cruz has since figured out his own style of MMA, particularly his standup and footwork. I don’t feel like this will be too tough of a fight for Cruz. I don’t think Faber can take him down or hit him very much standing; Cruz by TKO.
Drew Fickett: Cruz [wins].
Robin Black: After watching this awesomeness unfold, I plan to re-watch it a second time in slow motion to catch all the cool details and subtleties that these two amazing bantamweights will undoubtedly showcase. Fast-twitch Cruz and his awesome in-and-out stinger routine versus explosive Faber and his reckless showmanship should be a crazy cool thing to see. Too close to call, but I predict a cool freakin’ fight. Good times.
Eric Pele: “The California Kid” [via] third-round stoppage.
Rory Markham: I will go with Urijah in this fight. Cruz has great, unorthodox standup, but Urijah is one of the more creative strikers in the game. With the wrestling edge going to Urijah, I’m confident that the bout will be decided based on his wrestling strength. For me, this will be one of the most exciting matches of the year. With Cruz’s elusiveness and Urijah’s explosiveness, I’m sure that we will get a full action-packed [five] rounds; Urijah by unanimous decision.
Javier Vazquez: I think it is a very different fight from the first one. Cruz has gotten much better from the first time they fought. Faber is really good, but I see a carbon copy of the Joseph Benavidez fight [against Cruz]; 48-47 Cruz.
Sam Hoger: Faber has done this before. Faber will dominate and cruise through Cruz.
Nam Phan: I gotta go with my boy Urijah; too much awesomeness.
Travis Wiuff: I’m taking Faber by close decision. He struggles in the early rounds to get the takedown, but in the championship rounds, [he] begins to take over and is crowned the champ.
Tyron Woodley: Cruz [wins] because he is almost impossible to hit and [his] cardio is off the chain. Plus, [I have] a mild bias since he also reps The Kingdom.
Mike Easton: You know who I’m going for. Cruz is going to win.
Cub Swanson: Dominick will “Cruz” to a decision. Following the fight, he will be asked to appear on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Erik Paulson: Wow, what a fight. I think that Dominick is at the top of his game right now and Urijah needs this comeback win. Urijah needs to get him down and try to submit him, but with the way Dominick moves and sprawls, like the Japanese say, “Good ruck” We’ll see. I’ll be eating my popcorn and cherry Slurpee Big Gulp. Let the action begin.
Pros Picking Cruz: 13
Pros Picking Faber: 6
No Pick: 2