Published at Fight News
Story by Anthony Springer, Jr.
Photos by Chris Cozzone
Playing on the big stage is hardly new to Urijah Faber (25-4).
Though he’s headlining the first sub-155 pound fight in UFC history at UFC 132, “The California Kid” has been one of the sport’s biggest little men for some time now.
Faber will do battle with current bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz. Since the pair’s first meeting four years ago lasted just 1:38 and ended with Cruz being choked out. It’s the only blemish on his record.
Since then, the roles have switched to some degree. The younger Cruz is the champion and king of the bantamweight division. Faber is the hungry challenger. Adding to the drama is the war of words that developed between the two. Faber alleges Cruz has a chip on his shoulder; Cruz wants to shut Faber up and put to rest the endless stream of questions he gets about the only man to beat him.
“You’re dealing with two guys who are champs,” Faber said. “I’m expecting a battle.”
Make no mistake, this is a grudge match of sorts—a bout that will either put the feud to rest or set up a rubber match. Faber attributes this to the attitudes he and Cruz have concerning life.
“The reason it’s a grudge match is because you put Dominick and I in the same neighborhood and we’d probably end up fighting each other. His bad attitude and me not taking crap and me being the badder dude—that’s what this is about. Like-minded people are going to butt heads to see whose boss.”
It’s easy to think that Faber is overlooking Cruz—who hasn’t lost since their bout—he’s not. “The California Kid” knows Cruz is good, he just thinks he’s better. And by better, he means a better fighter than the fighter who was still better than Cruz the first time they fought.
“I’ve continued to improve my jiu-jitsu. I’ve submitted countless guys that had never been stopped,” Faber explains. “It’s one thing to see Dominick against some pretty good people; it’s another to see Dominick against me.”
A Faber win gives the UFC one more marketable champion. Faber understands this. In a career made up of headlining fights, the challenger stays ready for the next big moment. Saturday is the next in a long line.
“I’m one of the few guys that’s been at the top of my weight class since I’ve been in the sport. The road for me has been a lifestyle. Creating a regimen, focus and staying to it.”I’ve been out of title contention and then I beat somebody who was and I’m back in it. I’m at my most competitive weight class.
“I’m ready to seize the opportunity.”