by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
The path to any title shot is a long and arduous road. Contenders and pressure as its obstacles, some people flail under the bright lights and second chances are not common occurrences in this sport.

That’s why the WEC’s Dominick Cruz is humbled to have earned his second shot at a belt when he faces undefeated bantamweight champion Brian Bowles. (His first shot was opposite former featherweight champion Urijah Faber in early 2007.)

“It’s an honor. I feel blessed to be (fighting for the title) and I say that all the time, but it’s a true statement,” said Cruz as a guest on MMAWeekly Radio.

“I worked so hard to be here just like everybody else, and just to be getting the shot and the opportunity to be here has just been a huge blessing to me and I’m just really excited and pumped up. I’m going to take full advantage of it right away.”

Bowles (8-0) was last seen in action Aug. 9 of last year, when he dethroned then 135-pound kingpin Miguel Torres with a stunning first round knockout, in what was regarded as one of the biggest upsets of 2009. But having been in the game for nearly four years as a professional, Cruz knows full well that MMA is the wrong sport to bank on any definitive results.

“It’s so hard to predict a fight nowadays, man. Everybody’s just at a top notch level, that if you make one mistake, the fight is over,” said the 24-year-old.

“Me being a fighter in the weight class that I’m in, with the caliber of fighters I have to go against, you never count anybody out.”

By the same token, the Alliance MMA product doesn’t think that Bowles’ victory was left to chance.

“I definitely have a lot of respect for Bowles,” proclaimed Cruz. “I knew he could definitely beat Torres. He has his strengths, Torres has his strengths, and it’s all about game plan and who comes out as the better man that night. There’s not much you can do about it.

“You just go in there and fight your fight and hope that it goes your way and hope that all the preparations that you went through add up and you’re just going to pull the win out that night.”

Heading into the main event tilt in Columbus, Ohio, on March 6, Cruz, who hopes to extend his win streak to six, has done his homework, and come fight night will show the fruits of his labor.

“Everybody that I’ve fought, to be honest, has been as good as Brian Bowles, just that everybody has different areas that they’re good at,” said Cruz.

“I’m very confident in myself and my abilities and I’m very confident in my style, that I can beat anybody that’s put in there in front of me. If I didn’t believe that, then I have no business being in there.”