UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz sure picked an interesting time to become a coach on The Ultimate Fighter. Not only does the position pit him opposite his fiercest rival -- former WEC champion Urijah Faber -- it also throws him into the reality show franchise’s first season of live television. If all that weren’t enough to think about, the show’s starting cast has already garnered headlines for including a fighter with a history as a gay porn actor.
But if you ask Cruz, he’ll tell you that that’s not a particularly important piece of personal history as far as he sees it. He’s more concerned with whether guys like Dakota Cochrane can fight, he told MMA Fighting recently, and he expects the other fighters on the show to approach it the same way.
"I don’t even really think about it, honestly," Cruz said. "He’s another guy on the show. I think that’s how everyone will see it."
For Cruz, the goal with all the fighters who fight their way into the house on the live premiere of the show this Friday night is the same, whether they’re among the ones he knows personally from the San Diego MMA scene or whether they’re total strangers.
"For me, it’s a personal thing to make these guys better," he said. "It’s about seeing what I can show them, seeing what I can give them to help the rest of their careers. It’s also about hopefully helping a guy from my team win a six-figure contract with the UFC. That’s what it’s all about for me, and that’s the only thing I’m thinking about."
As for his old foe and rival Faber, who he’s slated to meet for a third and, if you ask Cruz, hopefully final time, once the season is finished? They might have spent more time together lately than either would have liked, but that doesn’t mean Cruz finds the challenger’s company any more agreeable, he said.
"I’ve been around Faber a lot. But we’re both professionals. I don’t think we’re going to lose it and just start scrapping each other. We both know we’ve got a date July 7, and I’m prepared to fight him on that date and not before."