When it comes to rivalries in mixed martial arts (MMA) today, none are as bitter and rooted in reality as the one between current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber.
The two arch enemies have a rivalry that dates back five years to their days spent competing in the now defunct World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) organization. The two first met at WEC 26 on March 24, 2007, which saw Faber hand Cruz his first and only loss to date in the very first round via guillotine choke to retain the WEC Featherweight championship.
Soon after WEC closed up shop, "The California Kid" and "The Dominator" both made the move to the UFC and met once again. This time, they competed in the 135-pound division and it was Cruz who was the bearer of the title.
After a five round war at UFC 132 on July 2, 2011, Cruz was awarded the unanimous decision victory, tying up the score at one a piece.
Now, the top two bantamweight fighters in the world will go at it one more time in what will complete the trilogy in their bitter rivalry and will remove all doubt as to who really is the best fighter between the two.
Appearing on Pro MMA Radio, Faber talks about the great opportunity both he and Cruz have in being the first ever coaches in the new era on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) that will now air on FX and what it will be like to be around someone for three months that he is not very fond of:
"It's a great opportunity on a lot of different levels. I think the fans are going to be pleasantly surprised at the action that he lighter weight guys have. They get to see some good coaching skills from Dominick and I and you can know us a little bit better which is important because people want to know who they are watching and who they are cheering for, it's going to be a great opportunity. It's going to be fun, it's going to be a good experience. I don't know how much interaction we are going to have, but I will definitely be seeing the guy (Cruz) a lot more than I want to or have ever had to before, so we will see how that goes. I have never been put in that environment when you get put around someone you don't really want to be around, it's part of the reason why I became a fighter was that so I didn't have to have the nine to five's of being around people I didn't like."
Faber also touched on what it means to finally settle the score and find out who the best 135-pound fighter in the world really is, something he feels still isn't clear after their close fight in Las Vegas last year.
"Yeah, I feel a little unsettled after the last fight. I felt like it was still undecided still who the better fighter is, so I can't wait to get in there again and put all the doubt out of my mind and everyone elses. I think the relationship (between me and Cruz) is we're not the best of friends, but there is some mutual respect as far as competitors go. But, he gets on my nerves, and vice versa. So we deal with each other as professionals, but we don't really like each other very much. Not to say I don't respect certain aspects of his game, but, you know, it's going to be interesting being around each other for three months on the reality show."
As a member of team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif., expect Faber to call on the services of training partners such as Joseph Benavidez, Chad Mendes and Danny Castillo to assist in coaching duties from time to time on the show.
This year's season of the TUF will feature live Friday night fights on FX, a first in the shows history.
Of course, as is customary with TUF, the two coaches will battle it out at the conclusion of the show, and in this case, will put to end the long and heated rivalry between the two bantamweights.
Any of you Maniacs anxious to see if the two rivals can go the whole season without going at each others throats? And who takes the third and, possibly, final fight between the two?