It's almost time to put up or shut up.
In the past few months, Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz have been sniping back and forth at each other through various media interviews in the build up to their bantamweight championship fight this Saturday at UFC 199. Faber has accused Cruz of PED usage and says the champion isn't "made for battle" while Cruz has called Faber a "jealous car salesman" and been generally dismissive of the former WEC champion's evolution as a fighter. Last weekened, Faber spoke with John Pollock of Fight Network about finally getting to fight Cruz and how Faber feels about the verbal sparring that's been going on between the two of them.
"[Cruz] is a dope, man. I’ve always been under that guy’s skin. I don’t really think about him but he spends a lot of time thinking about me. I think the reason is because I’ve been fighting. He’s been sitting around doing whatever. Who knows what he’s been doing? He’s been commentating, whatever. I’ve been fighting man. I’ve had my mind full doing, doing, doing. So it’s pretty fun. I like the banter back and forth. He’s okay at it. I think he thinks he’s better than he is at it but I enjoy it."
The verbal warfare between Cruz and Faber goes back almost a decade when the two first fought all the way back in 2007, where Faber successfully defended his WEC featherweight championship by submitting Cruz with a guillotine choke in the first round. Since then Cruz went on to become the WEC bantamweight champion and then the UFC bantamweight champion, during which time Cruz also avenged his loss to Faber by winning a unanimous decision over him at UFC 132. Cruz and Faber were originally supposed to fight a rubber match at UFC 148 but injuries derailed that.
Now the two will finally meet in the octagon to settle the score, but to hear Faber tell it he wasn't sure it was actually going to happen. Faber says he even asked the UFC to take special precautions to ensure that Cruz wouldn't back out of the fight.
"That has been a concern. Part of it’s a testament to him working hard, part of it’s a testament to having a weird style, part of it’s a testament to him [competing] in a sport he’s probably not built very well for, but it’s a concern to make sure he makes it. I’ve asked the UFC to take some extra precautions to make sure there are people on hand to cover his nooks and crannies and all that good stuff to make sure he makes it."
Cruz has a long history of injury woes. His rubber match with Faber was cancelled when Cruz tore his ACL, forcing him out for several months. He then had to have another surgery several months later when his body rejected the cadaver ACL used in the repair. Cruz was then scheduled to face interim champion Renan Barao in February of 2014 but was against sidelined this time by a torn groin muscle. As a result Cruz vacated his bantamweight championship and Barao became the undisputed 135 lb. champion.
When Cruz finally returned in September of 2014 he looked phenomenal in dispatching Takeya Mizugaki but then he once again tore his ACL, this time in the other knee, and was sidelined for all of 2015. Then early this year he returned to immediately challenge reigning champion T.J. Dillashaw. Cruz won and was finally back to the position he never was beaten out of.
Now that Cruz has reclaimed his bantamweight title, he and his fiercest rival are set to complete their trilogy this Saturday at UFC 199. For Faber, this opportunity may be the last one he gets. He is 37 years old and has been looking less like the dynamic finisher of his younger days. The odds in particular are not favorable to Faber who is coming in as large as a +500 underdog in some places. But Faber is unconcerned with the negative perceptions surrounding him.
"I don't try to waste my time with negativity so if it's not a positive, good feeling I don't try to focus or read up on this, read up on that. People talk about how I feel being the underdog, I didn't even know I was the underdog. I don't care. I'm training. I'm doing my thing. That's the reason I've been able to stay at the top of the heap and be a competitor like I have for thirteen years. I don't listen to the negativity."
Assuming all goes to plan, Faber soon won't have to hear any more because in less than a week he finally gets to fight Cruz; and really that's all he wants.
"I’m just hoping. We’re this close, I hope he gets there."
You can listen to the interview below.
5 MUST-READ STORIES
Dodged a bullet. The UFC's Valentina Shevchenko was caught in the middle of a robbery shootout in Peru.
Very reasonable. Cody Garbrandt wants a top-10 ranking and a fight at UFC 203 in Cleveland after his knock out of Almeida.
Also reasonable. Bryan Caraway believes it would be "ludicrous" for Cody Garbrandt to jump him in the UFC rankings.
Break down. Jeremy Stephens thinks he mentally broke Renan Barao during their fight.
Monday Morning Analyst. Luke Thomas breaks down the skills and tactics employed this weekend by bantamweight victors Garbrandt and Caraway.
EXTRA CREDIT READING
Blue chip. Patrick Wyman breaks down the 3 prospects from last weekend and how their games are on the cutting edge of MMA evolution.
Dom looking much more fit than for his fight with Dillashaw.
Bisping kneeing Cung Le's face off.
Delving into the Cruz vs Faber feud.
This is from last week but I just saw it. A fun mini documentary narrated by RJJ.
Eugene Robinson breaking down the fights as well.
The MMA Report doing post fight from the weekend.
2017 UFC heavyweight champion Matt Serra.
I asked for a challenge and I got it. This journey is about fighting the best and trying..https://t.co/YXW5gbfiFy pic.twitter.com/JisQ7H7htQ— Aljamain Sterling (@FunkMaster_UFC) May 30, 2016
And to Aljo's credit he took his loss well.
LOL I been waiting for this. Well played https://t.co/EQbLpxB1rI— Aljamain Sterling (@FunkMaster_UFC) May 30, 2016
"Mr. Tate" is no joke. But honestly at this point Caraway might as well steer into the skid and make that his official fight nickname.
@AngieOverkill @FunkMaster_UFC lol man lost to mr Tate.— Cody McKenzie (@thecodymckenzie) May 30, 2016
Here you can see the vaunted production talents of The Money Team at work.
.@badmedina https://t.co/648Qb26FTL pic.twitter.com/67agluPAGt— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) May 30, 2016
Roseanne is a big MMA fan apparently.
#Cody wins it as I said. #neckTatsTellThaTale— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) May 30, 2016
Or maybe just a Cody Garbrandt fan.
#Cody reminds us of who & what we r-Americans. Bad Asses. No bullshit. Deliver The Mail-put ur money where ur mouth is. Comeback Champions.— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) May 30, 2016
This picture would be amazing if Kadyrov wasn't in it. Khabib Who Wrestles Bears training with Buvaisar Saitiev would be the most dope.
The freestyle wrestling GOAT & a UFC contender rubbing shoulders with Kadyrov — a sad state of affairs. pic.twitter.com/0IGePfAjmV— Karim Zidan (@ZidanSports) May 30, 2016
Tim Kennedy with some words for Memorial Day.
Such great words from @timkennedymma pic.twitter.com/aL0DHP9Qiv— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) May 30, 2016
I am genuinely fascinated to know what Sage is gonna be like when he's in his mid thirties.
May 31, 2016
So much 'merica.
Not exactly the best look when the face photo appears to be from the Gustafsson fight instead of Cormier's fight with JBJ.
He's not driving which is great for UFC 200.
Formiga, Gadelha, and Barao all looking super young.
Não me canso dessa foto. #TBS Na foto: Eu, Jussier Formiga e Renan Barão em 2007. Três atletas Potiguares da Kimura Nova União, sonhando com um espaço no esporte, onde a luta não era valorizada no Brasil. Nesta época subíamos 30 minutos de escada na Favela do Pereirão no Rio de Janeiro, depois de andar cerca de 25 minutos para chegar no pé da escadaria. Este era o percurso casa/academia, árduo e cansativo, depois de um dia inteiro de muito treino, dormíamos em placas de Tatame doadas por um amigo e acordávamos muito cedo para treinar novamente, na bagagem só carregávamos sonhos, hoje contratados pela maior organização de lutas do mundo. Dúvidas de que Deus é poderoso??!! || I never tire of this photo. #TBS Pictured: Me, Jussier Formiga and Renan Barao in 2007. Three athletes from Kimura Nova Uniao coming to Rio de Janeiro from the northeast of Brazil. Dreaming with a place in the sport, where the fight was not valued in Brazil. At this time we use to climb stairs for 30 minutes up a favela, after walking about 25 minutes to reach the foot of the staircase. This was the route home /gym, strenuous and tiring after a full day of hard training, we slept on mats plates donated by a friend and we would wake up very early to train again everyday. In our luggage we only were carrying dreams, today we are employed by the largest organization of fights in the world. #teamgadelha #teambarao #teamformiga #ufc #KNU #strawweight #mma #kidswithdreams#teamgadelha #teambarao #teamformiga #ufc #KNU #strawweight #mma #kidswithdreams
Andrei Arlovski (25-12-0) vs. Josh Barnett (34-8-0); UFC Fight Night, September 3.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
1991: Shooto crowned its inaugural middleweight champion when Kenji Kawaguchi submitted Manabu Yamada with a kneebar. Also at the event, Kazuhiro Sakamoto became the Shooto featherweight champion when he beat Kenichi Tanaka by unanimous decision.
2013: Koji Oishi defeated Honorio Banario to become One FC featherweight champion. Also at the event, Bibiano Fernandes defeated Koetsu Okazaki to become the One FC interim bantamweight champion.
2014: The UFC held two events on the same day, UFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin, Germany and The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The former featured Gegard Mousasi submitting Mark Munoz with a rear-naked choke in the main event while the latter witnessed Stipe Miocic beating the brakes off of Fabio Maldonado in the main event.
2015: Mei Yamaguchi won the vacant Deep Jewels atomweight championship, stopping Satomi Takano with punches at Deep Jewels 8.
1988: Elias Theodorou
1980: Akitoshi Tamura
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