Not only does he plan on walking out with the 135-pound title still wrapped firmly around his waist, but Cruz gets to put to bed more than four years of questions about his loss to Urijah Faber.
Cruz has been virtually flawless in his entire career outside of his 2007 loss to Faber when he fought him for the WEC featherweight title. Add to that more some serious bad feelings shared for each other and Cruz is ready to shut Faber up, and silence any and all critics that bring up that first fight.
To Cruz the bout he has with Faber at UFC 132 is really the first time they’ve fought each other.
“That’s exactly the way I look at it, I’m fighting a brand new opponent. I’ve never fought this guy before. If he’s smart he’s looking at it the same way,” Cruz told MMAWeekly Radio recently.
The first fight was a lesson learned for Cruz, however, and it is something that led him to eight wins in a row, including a win to become the WEC bantamweight champion, and two subsequent successful title defenses.
“That goes back to the first fight. That was one of the most important lessons I learned from that loss was stick to the game plan,” Cruz commented. “My coach made a game plan for me in that fight, I knew the game plan, and I allowed myself to steer from it. That’s what comes with experience. That’s the type of thing that changes with experience. You can still use your brain, you can still think, and you can stick to everything that you guys had planned when you have the right experience.”
In the rematch, everything is amplified. The stage is much bigger, Cruz and Faber are headlining their first UFC pay-per-view, and the bad blood has risen to a whole new level.
“It’s gotten more and more personal throughout this camp,” Cruz said in an interview with MMAWeekly.com content partner TapouT Radio. “It started out as we didn’t really like each other, the more stabs are taken, at least me it’s gotten more and more personal and I definitely don’t like the guy. He sucks”
Cruz is pretty sure he knows why Faber is so angry.
“People got to figure out a way to hate on me cause I’m out there beating up all his boys. He’s losing money. He manages half the guys I beat up, he’s losing money, so he’s not going to say nice things about me,” Cruz stated.
Cruz references his fights with Faber’s teammate Joseph Benavidez, who he has two wins over, and his last title defense over Scott Jorgensen, who is sponsored by Faber’s Form Athletics company.
“On top of that, you’ve got to find a way to say something bad about me cause I’m out there winning. What else can you say other than I’ve gone to decision? He doesn’t talk about the fact that I set a record on punches landed my last fight for a title match, while he went the distance with somebody and didn’t finish them either.”
Cruz gets fired up whenever he talks about Faber, and it’s obvious the two bantamweights probably won’t be exchanging cards this holiday season, but when the bell rings and they meet in the center of the Octagon, the champion becomes the Terminator.
Cruz voids his mind of all the emotion and dislike he feels towards Faber because it will only cloud his judgment and impair his ability to do what he wants to do that night… put his fist through Urjiah Faber’s head.
“You really can’t feed the emotions into the fight. It’s just another fight when it comes down to it,” said Cruz. “It’s just another fight where you can’t really hold a conversation with the guy. That’s what it comes down to. Every other fight I’ve had, it’s cordial, you see the guy, he’s not talking trash about you, whatever. This fight, it’s going to be like stay away from me, get out of my face. I don’t know what he’s going to say, I don’t care, it doesn’t carry over into the fight.
“The bottom line is, no matter what, we’ll fight each other as hard as we can, it doesn’t matter what we say.”
Still, Cruz will be awfully happy when his hand is raised and he’s put Faber out of title contention in another weight class.
“I don’t care about Urijah, I’m the champion,” said Cruz.
“The dude’s lost two in a row at 145, he came into 135 and didn’t even fight the top five guys and now he gets the title shot. I’m the champion and I’m going to prove it on Saturday night.”