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Dominick Cruz claims Urijah Faber 'ran from' T.J. Dillashaw

Esther Lin photo

In the cage, UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is known for one of the most advanced stick-and-move styles the game's ever seen.

He's proven similarly elusive when verbally sparring with his opponents in the buildup to his fights.

During a wildly entertaining UFC 199 conference call on Thursday, Cruz, who meets Urijah Faber in the co-feature bout a week from Saturday night in Inglewood, Calif., went right after Cruz's sore spot: His relationship with former training partner T.J. Dillashaw.

"You ran from TJ when it mattered," Cruz said. "You were afraid to face him."

In a much-documented breakup, Dillashaw, then the bantamweight champ, left Faber's Team Alpha Male camp last year, joining former TAM coach Duane Ludwig at Elevation in Colorado. Cruz then defeated Dillashaw in January to regain the title he once had to vacate due to injuries.

And whenever Faber tried to talk during the conference call, Cruz was there to remind him about the guy who left his camp.

"Cruz keeps talking about all the competition he's faced," Faber said. "I fought T.J. in the gym every day, and ..."

"You ran from TJ." Cruz reiterated.

"I'm glad you guys are best friends now," Faber said.

Cruz wasn't about to let the matter drop.

"Why wouldn't you fight TJ? Why not face him while I was out? You were scared of losing to a guy you brought up in the sport."

"I've had 41 fights in the game," Faber countered. "I've fought Jose Aldo, I've fought Frankie Edgar. I'm not scared of you. You can't finish one guy in your whole career. TJ was my main training partner ..."

Cruz continued to needle Faber. "Now you're talking about how you hate him."

The frustration started to rise in Faber's voice. "Stay out of my life. I don't talk about your life and your friendships. Mind your own business."

Eventually, talk turned to their previous matchups, and needless to say, they also disagree about how those fights went down. Faber successfully defended his WEC featherweight title against Cruz back in 2007, winning via first-round submission for Cruz's only career loss. Cruz evened the scored and defended his bantamweight title at UFC 132 with a unanimous-decision win.

"It's an interesting psyche to get up for when you've got Dominick Cruz on your nerves for 10 years," Faber said. "This guy's supposedly so elusive and hard to hit and I had no trouble hitting him."

"No trouble hitting me? You missed so much," Cruz said.

"When I hit you I did damage. Your highlights are a couple jabs to my hair and that's it."

On and on they went, pausing occasionally to let Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping continue their arguments on the media call. While the call inevitably came to an end, there's still more than a week until UFC 199, so no doubt Thursday's words won't be the last between Cruz and Faber.

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