We’re now just days away from witnessing Urijah Faber and UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz go at it for a third time. Their trilogy fight at UFC 199 this weekend will put a stamp on what is possibly the longest-running feud in MMA.
In the sport of MMA it’s highly unusual for two veterans like Cruz and Faber to remain at the top for so long, and the fact they harbor such a strong dislike for one another makes things even more special.
“(Faber), he put himself in these positions. Me not liking him helped vault him into these positions even more,” Cruz told media in California this week.
Though he may not respect his biggest rival as a person, Cruz has no problem admitting Faber’s qualities as a fighter.
“I think after I beat him this time I won’t have to face him again,” said Cruz. “But Faber’s the type of guy that if you match him up with anyone in the top five he could still compete pretty well. He’s still up there. I think he beats his boy, Cody ‘No Love’ (Garbrandt). And I think he beats a couple other people in the division – top five, top 10.”
“He can fight, I’ve never denied that,” added the bantamweight champ. “I’ve just said that I’m better.”
Faber’s Team Alpha Male teammate, Garbrandt, recently skyrocketed in the UFC bantamweight top 10 following his knockout win over top contender Thomas Almeida this past weekend.
TAM – based in Sacramento, California – may be a close-knit team but has started to fray recently, with TJ Dillashaw and Joseph Benavidez both parting ways with the gym. Garbrandt has remained one of the team’s fiercest supporters, but Cruz believes the young contender would still fight his team leader if necessary.
“I think now he would (fight Faber), because I think Cody actually has a pair on him,” said Cruz. “He’d say, ‘Yeah, I’ll knock you out too, Faber.’ I think Cody has that type of demeanor, whereas TJ (Dillashaw) kind of looked up to Faber. They had this weird big brother thing where Faber was playing big brother to TJ, when the truth is Faber didn’t want to fight TJ for the belt because he didn’t want to lose to his little brother… He has no excuses if he loses to TJ for the belt. But that’s what Faber’s built of. He’s built his career on excuses and why he’s lost, and only talked about the things he’s done well. He’s never admitted the things he’s done not well, like his eight losses.”
Cruz is solely focused on beating Faber this Saturday night, but still sees his nemesis beating his younger teammate somewhere down the line.
“Eventually those two are going to end up having to see each other and, if I had to pick one, I’d probably go with Faber.”