Dominick Cruz Exclusive Interview: "I Want That Belt More Than Anything"

Matthew RothFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 12:  Mixed martial arts fighter Dominick Cruz (L) and professional surfer Kelly Slater attend UFC on Fox:  Live Heavyweight Championship at the Honda Center on November 12, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Dominick Cruz was expected to face his longtime rival Urijah Faber at UFC 148 in a rubber match for his bantamweight title. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury and was unable to compete on the card. While Cruz is on the sidelines, his teammate Mike Easton continues to make waves in the division. 

After his win over Ivan Menjivar, Easton spoke with Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter. He spoke about how Ivan Menjivar was apparently up for a title shot—had he won—and believes that he's now earned that shot at the belt. 

Teammates fighting teammates has been one of the most discussed topics in MMA. Camps such as Greg Jackson's apparently have fighters agree to not fight their teammates, no matter what is at stake. Cruz doesn't understand what the big fuss is about.

"To me, and me and Mike have talked about this, I really don't understand the mentality of 'I don't want to fight my teammates,' especially if it's for a belt. For a belt, definitely, no question. That's what we do this for," Cruz told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview.

"But really, if I'm chasing the belt in any part of this division and if I really want to be a world champion, you've gotta understand that the people you're training with are probably trying to be as good as you are. You might run into them," he said.

He makes a fantastic point—fighters aren't getting into this sport to not be the best. They want that belt as much as everyone else they train with, and there will likely be a time when both are fighting for the top spot in the division. 

We've seen it happen with Jon Jones and Rashad Evans, as well as currently with Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit. Both train with Greg Jackson.

"There's only a top-five in the division that you end up getting to that you have to fight to get your chance at the belt," Cruz said. "Well, after awhile your friends might work into the top five. Once you work into the top five, you have to understand that I want that belt more than anything."

"We beat the crap out of each other in practice anyways. We beat the hell out of each other. The only difference is now there's a stage for it to be on. In any situation, I feel that friends set that aside to fight for business.

"If you want to be that world champion, you have to be willing to beat anybody on this planet—no strings attached," Cruz said.

That last line strikes me to the core. If you want to be the best in the world, you have to be willing to prove it by fighting the best in the world.

Friendships will last beyond that 25 minutes in a cage. Leave the ego at the door and see what happens.