by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Rematches can be a sticky situation in MMA.
Sometimes when a fighter beats someone they feel that’s the accomplishment, and there’s no need for a second fight. Other times it’s admittedly harder to beat a fighter a second time, and a rematch is a tough proposition.
Well, tough match-ups are what WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is looking for. And he’ll look to go two-for-two when he faces Joseph Benavidez for the second time when they square off at WEC 50 in Las Vegas.
“To me this is just like the first fight we had a year ago. He was a tough opponent then, he’s a tough opponent now,” said Cruz recently. “I prepared myself just as much as I did the first time I fought him, if not better. I’m just ready to go out there and do my thing.”
When watching Benavidez in his last two fights, a knockout over Rani Yahya and a submission win over Miguel Torres, Cruz says he’s seen definite improvements in his style, but he never underestimated just how dangerous Benavidez was.
“I always knew he had the potential to do what he did for those fights,” Cruz told MMAWeekly Radio. “Everything about fights comes down to style match-up, and if you stand in front of Joseph and let him punch you, you’re going to get punched. The key is fighting him a specific way, making sure he can’t unload on you.
“You’ve got to be able to change your style up, and unfortunately those guys weren’t quite able to figure it out.”
Throughout his career, Benavidez has been a very tough opponent for anyone to figure out. The only speed bump that deterred him along the way was the 2009 loss to Cruz, the only one of his career.
“Joseph kind of ran through everybody he fought except for me,” Cruz commented. “That being said, pretty much everything I did in that fight, I probably did pretty right. A lot of the things are going to stay the same, there’s a few changes that you’ve got to make.”
The changes that Cruz made started in camp about 10 weeks ago, but that was after the champion suffered a hand injury in his win over former champion Brian Bowles. The recovery for the hand wasn’t complete until he got back into camp for this fight, but he’s been training on it full-time with no issue.
Of course the biggest change for Cruz this time around is more of a mental preparation as he comes into the fight in August as the WEC champion for the first time, instead of the challenger.
To be the hunted instead of being the hunter.
For Cruz, while he appreciates the gold strap around his waist, nothing else changes.
“None of those things matter,” Cruz said about rankings and title belts. “All that matters is that you go out there and compete at your full potential, and I don’t think I’ve reached my full potential.
“To be honest, being champion is just the beginning of the things I’d like to do. To me, I don’t want to say it’s not anything because it’s a great accomplishment, but there’s just so much more I want to do, so much more I want to show, and I just want to continue fighting. I love what I do, and I love to make improvements every fight.”
Cruz will get the chance to add to his list of accomplishments when he faces Joseph Benavidez in Las Vegas on Aug. 18.