UFC Champ Dominick Cruz Headed Towards Greatness, Thankful for Team and Coaches

Joshua CareySenior Analyst IOctober 2, 2011

Dominick Cruz (19-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) remains the king of the bantamweight division after outclassing challenger Demetrious Johnson to retain his championship in Saturday night's UFC Live main event.

Cruz displayed superior grappling and the champion had the obvious advantage in strength, which he used it to his advantage to control Johnson on the ground.

The champion's ability to combine exceptional footwork and striking along with the grappling he displayed is amazing. Cruz feels it's a true testament to the countless hours of hard work he puts in with his coaches and teammates at Alliance MMA in California.

"For sure, I had Adam Lynch, who's been helping me with my wrestling from Penn State University," Cruz told Bleacher Report shortly after defeating Johnson. "Phil Davis is always helping me improve. I bring guys out all the time to always try to make my wrestling better and better and better.

"My grappling with Team Lloyd Irvin, I've been working on my jiu-jitsu with Lloyd Irvin; Andre Galvao, who just won ADCC world championship in the open division and his own division. So, I'm just trying to work with the best guys I can to improve, improve, and improve. And, it's working out right now."

At 26 years of age, Cruz has been unstoppable at 135 pounds since teaming up with Alliance MMA head coach Eric Del Fierro and the aforementioned gentlemen.

The champion looked phenomenal in defeating Johnson to make a successful fourth title defense.

With the victory, Cruz has defeated the top five ranked bantamweights in the world and is solidifying himself as one of the most dominant champions in the sport.

"That's exactly what I'm trying to do," Cruz said. "I'm trying to make history and build a legacy here. That's why I live the way I live. I live for this sport, I'm focused, I'm always trying to improve and get better. I'm trying to make a statement for the 135-pounders on how exciting fights we can have and what we do out there.

"To be honest, what I'm doing is just always making adjustments to the people I fight and depending on what they do I just have to make the adjustments. I hand a hand injury in the fight, so I had to make adjustments there and at the same time he was pressuring so much just going crazy with punches (and) not even setting them up—just throwing like a maniac, that he gave me the takedown. So, I took what he gave me and I was able to control him and use my size against him. That's what MMA is about, it's just mixing it up and using what your opponent gives you and making him uncomfortable."

In addition to Cruz's dominant performance, the champion's teammate Mike Easton was also impressive in claiming victory in the lead-up to the main event. Add in the fact that it's the 15-year anniversary for Team Lloyd Irvin and you have a special night for Cruz.

"This is outstanding," Cruz said. "I kind of stamped myself in the history books like a 100 percent certain tonight. That's something I've been looking for and Eric Del Fierro has been with me since day one and he was the only person who believed in me in the beginning and now people are starting to believe in me now.

"Team Lloyd Irvin, Lloyd also believed in me and has had my back since Day 1. It's his 15 year anniversary since he opened his gym and started his hustle and his grind and that's what he's done non-stop. The guy's one of the most successful people I know that did it from nothing and just grinded his way to the top. That's what I want to represent, that's what Lloyd represents, that's what Eric Del Fierro represents, that's what team Alliance represents, and that's how we just want to keep doing it."

Saturday night in Washington, DC will certainly go down as one of the most memorable nights of the champion's career and in closing he wanted to give thanks to those who support him in his quest to greatness.

"Yeah, more than anything I want to give God all the glory for this win," Cruz said. "Without him, I wouldn't be able to do it, no doubt. Also, Famous Stars and Straps, thanks for the love."