In Saturday night’s main event, two great fighters with wildly contrasting styles will clash in the Octagon.
Dominic Cruz, the UFC bantamweight champion, will look to use his fluid, methodical, near flawless technique to frustrate the only man ever to beat him in MMA.
In the other corner, Urijah Faber will try to employ a quick, jittery and explosive game to unseat Cruz from atop the mountain. In short, method meets madness.
Cruz’s ability to stick to a game plan in the cage, moving his feet and effectively using combos, is among the best you can see in MMA. In his last title defense, he spent five rounds stymieing a dangerous Scott Jorgensen with some of the more impressive footwork and combinations I’ve seen executed in MMA.
If Cruz can continue to bob and weave his way in and out of Faber’s reach and grasp, it could make for a long night for The California Kid, who is well aware that he’s fighting a significantly more improved Cruz this time around. Being the intelligent fighter Faber is, however, he’s likely to try and use Cruz’s own strengths against him.
Faber possesses a combination of speed and power most lighterweight fighter do not. It’s that rare combination that allowed him to reign over the WEC’s featherweight division for so long, and develop a reputation as a lethal finisher by any means necessary.
Faber’s charge in this fight will be to bait Cruz into a false sense of security believing he can execute his normal game plan circling in and out of Faber’s reach, and then use his speed and power to strike at a moment when Cruz is circling back in for a combo.
This strategy could work perfectly for Faber for a number of reasons. First, Faber loves the overhand right. If he times it well, as he is wont to do, he can land it square on Cruz’s chin during that circle back in. Good night, fight over.
Second, any opponent facing Faber will surely look to Faber’s recent losses to Mike Brown and Jose Aldo for guidance. It’s no secret that Aldo used a barrage of leg kicks to turn Faber’s left leg into tenderized sirloin, and if Faber ever had a weakness exposed in a fight, that was the moment.
With the clear-cut reach advantage Cruz has on Faber, and his ability to utilize leg kicks effectively in most of his fights, he’s certain to think the opportunity is there for him to do to Faber’s leg what Aldo did.
]Again, this is another example of how Faber can use Cruz’s own strength against him. If Faber times it right, he’ll have a great chance to score a takedown, or even land that same overhand right I highlighted earlier. Either way, Faber should be ready to jump at the opportunity he’ll undoubtedly be presented with when Cruz moves in to attack.
Every opportunity Faber will have to score a takedown or knockout will come at a moment when he is exposed. He has to bait Cruz in order to be effective in this fight, because Cruz has become too good of a fighter to allow Faber to simply hunt him down and strike at will.
If Faber does get down Cruz’s timing, then we could see a highlight reel finish somewhere in the middle rounds, because bating Cruz will only work if, as I said before, he’s lulled into a false sense of security and believes he can move in and out at will without fear of reprisal from Faber. It may take a round or two to get to that point.
It’s often stated that styles make fights. In this upcoming war between method and madness, madness can be victorious with a little method sprinkled in.