Though he is now officially the UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz won the title by defeating Scott Jorgensen at WEC 53 while he was the reigning WEC 135lbs. champ. The Arizona native (fighting out of San Diego) will make the first defense of his new, probably heavier belt this summer against old rival Urijah Faber, the only man he’s fought over whom he cannot claim a victory.
Cruz and Faber first met in the cage at WEC 26 in 2007 in contention of Faber’s featherweight crown in a bout that saw “The California Kid” tap Cruz out in the first with a guillotine. With a rematch now scheduled to headline the July 2 UFC 132 event, Cruz spoke with MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani and revealed what he explained are the differences he sees in Faber from then and now, in addition to predicting how his recent, intensive hand surgery could aid him in defeating Faber.
“To me, he’s improved on his striking since I fought him. His striking’s gotten better,” Cruz said. “…it’s not a whole lot better, but I feel that his biggest threats are obviously in the grappling area. That’s that, that’s Urijah. He goes in there, he tries to create scrambles, tries to get you frazzled, and turn it into just a giant scramble and the bottom line comes down to: I make people fight my fight, they have to adjust to me. I’m gonna make him go in there and do the same thing I’ve done before and try to figure out a way to adjust to my style and he’s not going to be able to.”
Shortly after the WEC’s last event, Cruz underwent hand surgery to repair issues with loose tendons. The surgery required drilling a hole through the base knuckle of the middle finger on his left hand, through which a tendon from his wrist was threaded and secured as well as the complete reconstruction of the middle knuckle of his ring finger. These procedures left the size of both knuckles permanently increased, something that Cruz plans to use to his advantage on the night.
“I don’t think a ring is going to be going on that finger anytime soon, but the bottom line is: my hand’s feeling better, I’m able to punch people again and it should fit just nice right in the middle of Urijah’s chin,” he said.
UFC 132 is scheduled to go down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.