Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
He wasn't able to finish his foe, not like "The California Kid" did to him in the first battle between the two, but he did enough to earn himself a hard-fought decision in a "Fight of the Year" candidate.
Due to the close nature of the bout, questions were quickly raised regarding the potential for the UFC matchmakers to book an immediate rubber match.
Not going to happen.
No one is ruling out a third fight in this compelling rivalry but no one is committing to it either. That opens up a top contender spot for a couple of 135-pound scrappers -- Brian Bowles and Demetrious Johnson.
So who gets the shot first?
Bowles was back in action last night, as well, earning himself an extremely difficult unanimous decision victory over the always game Takeya Mizugaki.
This marked his second victory this year, although it didn't come without hardship.
After the bout, speculation ran rampant that Bowles had broken his hand, something he does about as often as the sun rises.
Luckily, he believes he avoided the dreadful injury and tweeted this pic as evidence.
Does he have a strong case to challenge for the title? After all, he's the one Cruz had to defeat to win the strap but he did so only after a doctor stoppage thanks to, you guessed it, Bowles breaking his hand.
The other potential number one contender is Johnson, a 24-year-old with the exact same 10-1 record as Bowles.
The win over Torres was controversial and came at a heavy price. Johnson broke his fibula checking a leg kick in the second round, an injury that has had him on the sidelines ever since.
He's currently rehabbing and hoping to resume training sometime within the next month.
In the June 2011 SB Nation/USA Today consensus rankings (released before UFC 132), Bowles is listed at number three while Johnson shows up at number 6.
As an aside, Cruz has defeated the men ranked at numbers two (twice), three, four and five. That's pretty damn impressive, folks.
Sean Shelby and Joe Silva have been tasked with a difficult decision. Help them out, Maniacs. Who deserves the shot?
Brian Bowles or Demetrious Johnson?