Dominick Cruz (18-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) provided fans with a marvelous performance in his first UFC bantamweight title defense this past Saturday.
The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas played host to the championship headliner that saw Cruz defeat arch-rival, Urijah Faber, via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 48-47).
When the WEC merged with the UFC in late 2010, Cruz became the first bantamweight champion in UFC history. UFC 132 marked Cruz’s opening title defense as champion and “The Dominator” wants to enjoy every moment of his victory.
“I’m still taking it in,” Cruz recently told BleacherReport.com. “It’s only been a day and it’s just a trip. I just want to relax and take it all in step-by-step. It’s a lot that I’ve sacrificed and it was just such a tough and rough camp, it’s an awesome feeling.”
The champion’s pre-fight preparations for Faber took place at his home camp of Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, Calif.
Cruz has spent the past four years learning under the tutelage of head coach Eric Del Fierro. Over that time span, Cruz defeated many of Faber’s teammates including top-10 ranked Joseph Benavidez (twice) in the WEC.
The Alliance trained champion knew a second meeting with Faber was inevitable and he made the most of his second chance against “The California Kid”.
“I just feel like it kind of put a cherry on top for me,” Cruz said. “I feel like I’ve been fighting everybody out of that camp. I knew sooner or later that we were going to run into each other, but it was just an awesome, awesome way to finish things off. I knew that I was going to be able to beat him and I’ve wanted that fight for four years. It couldn’t of worked out better and I went out there and fought my heart out.
“I trained as hard as I possibly could before the fight, I went out there, performed, let my body do what I trained it to do and God blessed me with the win.”
Prior to the event, some skeptics were unsure as to whether bantamweights and featherweights could successfully headline a pay-per-view.
But at the conclusion of UFC 132, Cruz proved them wrong and showed the world that while he may be smaller in stature, he ranks among the sport’s most exciting fighters.
“That was the goal of this fight,” Cruz said. “I feel like that was the goal when the UFC made the fight. I feel like we definitely came through and we did our jobs, Faber and I did our jobs. We both went out there and we were trying to kill each other from beginning to end, plain and simple. There’s no doubt about it and we put on a good show for the fans.
“That’s what this is about and I think the UFC knew we were going to throw down like that and that’s why they put us on this weekend with such a stacked card underneath us. It’s incredible and I couldn’t stop looking at the T.V. while I was warming up.”
With Cruz’s thrilling showing against the ultra-popular and talented Faber, fans of the world’s top-ranked bantamweight can rest easy knowing that he’ll be headlining future events.
“It’s like a gift,” Cruz who is on a nine-fight win streak said. “It’s awesome to be able to go out there and prove what we can do. I think it’s awesome that he’s giving us the opportunity to be co-main or main event all the time. I think it’s kind of a tribute to the way the fights went a little bit and it’s awesome.”