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Dominick Cruz: Cody Garbrandt would fight Urijah Faber, but Faber would win

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

TORRANCE, Calif. -- UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has made a game out of taking swipes at Urijah Faber's Team Alpha Male gym.

Last week, Cruz got under Faber's skin during a UFC 199 media call by claiming that Faber "ran from" former champion T.J. Dillashaw, refusing to fight his former protege.

But with his trilogy fight with Faber just days away, Cruz has taken on a new tack. Cruz told reporters at Wednesday's UFC 199 open workouts that not only would Faber be willing take a fight with current teammate Cody Garbrandt, but that the veteran Faber would win such a matchup against the undefeated knockout artist.

"Faber's the type of guy that if you match him up with anyone in the top five, he's still up there, he'll still compete with them," Cruz said. "I think he beats his boy Cody ‘No Love,' and I think he beats a couple other guys in this division, in the top five, the top 10."

Garbrandt is coming off the biggest victory of his career, his first-round knockout of Thomas Almeida on Sunday night at UFC Fight Night 88 in Las Vegas, a victory which put him square into the conversation on future challengers for Cruz's belt.

Cruz believes that unlike Dillashaw, who was deferential to Faber and ultimately left the camp, Garbrandt wouldn't be afraid to take on his gym's leader.

"I think Cody actually has a pair on him that he'd say, ‘yeah, I'll knock you out too Faber,'" Cruz said. "I think Cody has that kind of demeanor, whereas T.J. had this weird, big brother, little brother thing, T.J. kind of looked up to him. The truth is, Faber didn't want to fight T.J. for the belt because he didn't want to lose to his little brother."

When push comes to shove, though, Cruz, who doubles as an analyst for FOX Sports, believes should Faber and Garbrandt ever collide, the style matchup would favor Faber.

"I just think there's a different style matchup there," Cruz said. "I think he knows Cody, too. I think that while Cody is very good, I just think that, I break down fights differently, I see things a little different you know? Eventually those two are going to end up having to see each other, and if I had to pick one I would probably go with Faber."

Faber, for his part, wouldn’t take Cruz’s bait Wednesday, preferring instead to focus on Garbrandt’s performance.

"It motivated me a lot," Faber said. "I mean, it’s motivating just being in the gym with that guy, for those that don’t know that guy has a heart of gold. He’s an amazing kid, an amazing talent, the confidence that he has and the way he approaches everything is top notch. To see him get that victory after he asked for that fight and pushed for that fight, to see him go out there and get that was big."