We are just a few days away from UFC 132 and the first ever UFC Bantamweight title fight, as Urijah Faber challenges Dominick Cruz. It's a fascinating fight for a number of reasons, and an important moment for Cruz, Faber, and the entire Bantamweight division. Heading into this big match-up, former WEC Featherweight kingpin and poster boy Urijah Faber spoke to SB Nation's MMA Senior Editor Luke Thomas.
There's a lot of good discussion here, but some of the most interesting comments revolve around Cruz's much touted stand-up skills, and how Faber has him scouted:
[Cruz] throws some straight punches but his body is not right behind it. It's not like he's standing and throwing a straight punch. One of his best punches is a straight right that he runs off to the side. It's a straight punch if you look at the actual punch but his body is way out of the way. So although it looks like it's a lot of crazy
stuff that he's doing out there, there's quite a few things that are regimented. He moves the same direction quite a bit. He throws the same combos after jabs. He ends with low kicks. He throws a lot of right hand-right kick combos and does the same motion that he switches to a body shot, a head shot, a low kick. There's a real method to his madness and I've seen a ton of his tapes, I've been in the corner when he's fought, I've fought him, so I'm pretty savvy to what he's doing.
Later this week, we'll be breaking down the stand-up skills of both men, but I think Faber's analysis is accurate. Cruz has a unique striking style which has given his opponents fits up until now. But as we saw with Lyoto Machida and Shogun Rua, even the most evasive, effective strikers can be figured out. From the interview here, it sounds like Faber really has prepared well. The question then is, can he find Shogun's success and be the man to finally catch Cruz? I find myself much more intrigued by this match-up now, and am interested to see how Faber fares on the feet.
Overall, it's a great, candid interview that is worth a complete read or listen. Faber talks openly about his legacy, his future, the Cruz vs. Joseph Benavidez fights, as well as gives his picks for the other big bouts on the card. A lot of fans are turned off by Faber's personality, and by the way he was so heavily hyped by the WEC during his run there. But here, he comes across as a smart, very aware fighter who really understands the entirety of the MMA business.
As Faber himself points out, UFC 132 and Dominick Cruz will largely define his lasting legacy as a fighter. He has the potential to enter the record books as a UFC champion, or to finally be forced to give up his championship dreams. Faber is all too aware of this reality, and will no doubt give it his all to make that legacy - we'll find out if he succeeds on Saturday.