Dominick Cruz heard all the things Urijah Faber had to say about Duane Ludwig last week and it brought back memories. Cruz, the former UFC bantamweight champion, said Faber denigrated him in a similar way years ago.
Faber took to The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani last week to accuse Ludwig, the former Team Alpha Male coach, of multiple serious transgressions -- including sexism and racial bullying.
Cruz believes that Faber is only coming out now against Ludwig, because Faber is threatened by the success of teammate T.J. Dillashaw under Ludwig's tutelage. Dillashaw won the UFC bantamweight title with Ludwig as his main coach.
"So what's Faber gotta do?" Cruz told MMA Fighting. "Naturally, he's gotta trash Duane Ludwig. Has to. When we look all the way back to when I fought Faber, it's the exact same situation in my opinion that he's doing to Ludwig. It's like a smear campaign that Faber does when he starts feeling uncomfortable with somebody. He uses his fanbase and his platform to bash somebody when they're doing something well. That's what he did to me."
Cruz, who is working as an analyst on FOX Sports 1 for UFC 192 this weekend, said Faber made life very difficult for him as a young fighter. Faber beat Cruz in 2007 and Cruz avenged the loss in 2011. But it was the words, Cruz said, that did the most damage.
"Everybody doesn't know how [many] terrible things he said about me that people believe, because he's Urijah Faber," Cruz said. "It made things very tough for me coming up to have people believe in me because you have somebody with the platform saying the opposite."
Ludwig denied most of Faber's accusations in an interview last week with MMA Fighting and expressed his desire to just squash the beef, because he wants to continue working with Team Alpha Male fighters. Ludwig has also apologized in multiple interviews. Cruz doesn't think he should be doing that.
"Poor Ludwig can't get a sentence out of his mouth if he tried," Cruz said. "Now he's working on an uphill battle against Faber, who not only has a platform, he's live on TV right now, so he's in the limelight. Faber knows all this, so what he does is he uses the limelight to his advantage. And what does Ludwig do? He's so dumb that he just starts apologizing when Ludwig is not the one that needs to apologize. He didn't do anything wrong and to be quite frank, I think Ludwig is on to something. I think he's right."
Cruz meets Dillashaw for the title in the main event of UFC Fight Night 81 on Jan. 17 in Boston. He does not thing Dillashaw will be affected by the bickering between Faber, his close friend and training partner, and his coach.
On this season's The Ultimate Fighter, Conor McGregor notably told Faber, his rival coach, that Dillashaw is a "snake in the grass." Cruz agrees to an extent.
"I think T.J. is just doing what Faber taught him and that's riding coattails," Cruz said. "Let's be real. Faber is one of the best in the world at doing that, figuring out where he needs to be and how he needs to weasel it. Only a guy who knows how to ride coattails is going to go on The Ultimate Fighter and not even fight anybody at the end of the show. He just wanted the TV time. He only wants the TV time, he only wants the girls and he only wants the fame. And that's why Faber hasn't touched a belt yet.
"This is just Faber being Faber. Just kind of like, 'I'm famous, you're not, ha ha ha. Everybody likes me, nobody likes you.' That's his game. It's real silly and it's real fake. To me, he's not a real individual. You get all kinds of different things from Faber. He just wants everybody to like him. That's all he wants. He just wants friends everywhere. He's not gonna be real with you. He's the kind of guy, he'll tell you what you want to here instead of the truth."
In Cruz's mind, there are a lot of coattails being ridden up in Sacramento and he's not surprised by all the headlines.
"Look how Ludwig went to Alpha Male and rode their coattails, too," Cruz said. "It's just a bunch of guys trying to be famous and they're all just a bunch of boneheads stacked into one gym, so it causes a bunch of drama."