· Weekend Rewind: The History Of TUF Coaches Cruz And Faber
In a few short hours, the UFC will launch "The Ultimate Fighter’s" inaugural FX season. Given the honors of coaching in what may very well be the show’s biggest season to date are Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz. While neither fighter is particularly known for hyperbolic fight hype or having a bad attitude towards their opponents, these two bantamweights simply do not like each other. On this past week’s installment of "Ultimate Insider," this dynamic was put on display as both men were sat in a theater to comment on their two prior encounters.
The two first met nearly five years ago at WEC 26. “The California Kid” had been lording over the featherweight division with his wild, exciting style of grappling and sterling offense in the scrambles which he often found himself in. Cruz, a tough prospect who was somewhat unheralded by many as he debuted that night in the WEC, had just started gaining momentum under the Zuffa banner.
In short, it was not a good night for “The Dominator.” Faber outclassed him on the feet early on, forcing him to shoot for a takedown. The seasoned Faber got hold of his foe’s neck and squeezed with all he had as he rolled Cruz onto his back, forcing a tap in just 98 seconds.
As time went on, Urijah experienced a fall from grace, losing the featherweight title to Mike Brown and failing to recapture in a rematch. Urijah earned yet another opportunity against Jose Aldo in what would be the promotions only pay-per-view event. With those missteps, Faber decided he was better suited in the 135 pound division. Cruz, who had already made the move down, had ruled with an iron fist, casting aside the likes of Brian Bowles, Scott Jorgensen, and Faber’s stable mate Joseph Benavidez (twice).
The two would get the rematch they wanted last July at UFC 132. It was a different story this time around. Cruz’s unorthodox kickboxing and elusiveness proved to be too much for his nemesis, who failed to capture any prolonged success across 25 minutes—in spite of remaining competitive throughout. It remains a somewhat contentious decision to this day, but “The Dominator” would retain his title and avenge the sole loss on his near perfect record.
The two men will now be pitted against each other once again, but before entering the Octagon, they will face each other in a different kind of battle as they take the role of coaches on this season of "The Ultimate Fighter Live."
Faber vs. Cruz (WEC 26): Link
Cruz vs. Faber (UFC 132): Link