Team Cruz vs. Team Faber
The top two fighters of the bantamweight division, the Champion Dominic Cruz and the number one contender Urijah Faber, are set to go head to head as coaches of the fifteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter and at the end dispute the championship belt. The Dominator and The California Kid will coach 16 of the TUF contestants who will need to prove themselves as the next Ultimate Fighter. While coaching these fighters for a chance to obtain a six figure contract with the UFC, Cruz and Faber will also be training for their most anticipated third battle. Cruz vs Faber III will go down at the TUF 15 Finale on July 2012. The road to this date has been and will continue to be an interesting one since, as we know from past experiences, coaching on the ultimate fighter adds that much more fuel to the rivalry fire and these two fighters have meet in the cage before with a victory a piece.
But, who are Cruz and Faber? What are their training methods and habits? Who has the best training facility or training camp? Most importantly, aside from their personal achievements, on which of the two teams would you rather be?
Before we look at their history and talk about the trilogy, we must know a little bit about these fighters. Who are Cruz and Faber?:
Dominic “The Dominator” Cruz: began his professional mixed martial arts career fighting in the Rage in a Cage and Total Combat organizations where he assembled and impressive undefeated record of 9-0. He then moved to the World Extreme Cagefighting where he had another impressive 8-1 run and dominated the Bantamweight division for two years until moving to the UFC and accumulating two successful title defenses for a total 19-1 record. He is a Wrestling, Boxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who is characterized for his unlimited cardio, excellent footwork which permits him to strike from all angles, head and body movement that make him a target almost impossible to hit, and superb takedown defense. Cruz trains out of Team Alliance MMA and Loyd Irvin MMA out of San Diego, California. They are Jiu Jitsu oriented camps that have incorporated Muay Thai specialist and Wrestlers to prepare their fighters for the best MMA well rounded game possible. Some of his training partners include Brandon Vera, an incredibly skilled Muay Thai specialist, and Phil Davis, one of the best wrestlers and athletes of the UFC.
Urijah “The California Kid” Faber: began his professional mixed martial arts career with the Gladiator Challenge promotion where he compiled a record of 4-0 and became the Bantamweight champion. He then fought in the King of the Cage promotion (parent company of GC) and also became the Bantamweight champion. Competing in both organizations at the same time his record improved to 16-1. This record includes a WEC Featherweight championship which he capture while still fighting for GC and KOTC. Faber then moved full time to the WEC and added another 8 victories and 3 defeats to his career and was also a champion and top contender of the Featherweight division. He then moved with the merger to the UFC where his is 2-1 for a total record of 26-5. Faber is a Wrestling, Kick Boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter who is characterized for his explosiveness, athleticism, grappling and striking abilities. He is the founder of Team Alpha Male out of Sacramento California where he trains full time with striking coach Thonglor “Master Thong” Armatsena and Jiu Jitsu coach Fabio “Pateta” Prado. This team is equipped with high caliber wrestlers like Chad Mendez, one of the best in the UFC, and electrifying high intensity athletic fighters like Joseph Benavidez and Danny Castillo. This camp produces fighters with true signs of a well rounded mixed martial artist.
The trilogy began back in 2007 in the World Extreme Cagefighting promotion. WEC 26 was the stage for Dominic Cruz to make his debut in the organization facing, the champion at the time, Urijah Faber for the Featherweight championship of the world.
Cruz vs. Faber I:
With only 9 fights in his career and a white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Cruz was submitted by the then more experienced Faber who took the fight to the ground and at the 1:38 mark of the first round sunk in a Guillotine choke to end the fight and retain his Featherweight belt. This was Cruz’s only career defeat to date.
After this loss Cruz moved down to the bantamweight division where he would have 8 straight consecutive wins. In this winning streak he captured the bantamweight title and defended it twice, one of them against Faber’s team mate Joseph Benavidez. On the other hand, Faber also decided to move down to the bantamweight division after losing the featherweight title to Mike Brown, making another run for it and coming short again with his lost to Jose Aldo in April of 2010. After decisively defeating two top contenders, Urijah Faber earned a shot to challenge Dominic Cruz for the Bantamweight title at UFC 132 on July 2nd 2011, which became the official first title defense of the Bantamweight division as part of the UFC.
Cruz vs. Faber II:
The fight went back and forth throughout all 5 rounds. Faber landed the hardest strikes and scored multiple knock downs, but Cruz landed the most significant strikes and scored four takedowns which at the end of the night earned him the unanimous decision victory avenging the only loss on his record and handing Faber his only UFC loss up to date. The match took Fight of the Night honors and right away the talks about the possible rematch emerged. Cruz was also awarded his blue belt by his Jiu Jitsu coach Lloyd Irvin after the fight.
Dominic went on to defend his featherweight title against Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Versus 6 and Urijah defeated Brian Bowles at UFC 139. Shortly after this the UFC announced that the coaches for the premier season of TUF on FX and the show’s fifteenth installment would be Dominic Cruz and Urijah Faber who will clash once again at the end of the season to dispute the Bantamweight title and settle the score. The trilogy will be completed at Cruz vs. Faber III on July 2012.
Considering both fighters exciting careers, their fighting skills, their training camps, their fight history and animosity, their coaches and training partners (which as history shows will most likely be or make appearances in the show) and their personalities, in which team would you rather be if you where a contestant of The Ultimate Fighter 15?.