For one reason or another, Dom just doesn’t get too much love on this site. I, however, must confess that I’m completely in awe of the way he fights. The energy behind his speed and power is a wonder to observe and there isn’t one guy in the UFC who has a striking style quite like his. It’s also hard to deny that his second clash with Urijah Faber was arguably 2011’s best fight.
Dominick Cruz is one of the most entertaining mixed martial artists on the planet and he hasn’t defended his bantamweight championship belt in over two years.
A wounded fan base grieves in disappointment.
The division has not only temporarily lost its rightful champion, but also a man who is known for quintessentially exemplifying the caliber of athleticism required to rule over the other top contenders of this weight class. And that’s why having Cruz away from the octagon hasn’t been too much fun for a lot of us. No one else in the division let alone the UFC can replicate anything remotely compatible to Cruz’s agility and ultra-light-on-the-feet kickboxing. And much like every other UFC champion, Cruz’s fights are usually one-of-a-kind demonstrations of a uniquely elite level of MMA featuring a pace that tremendously pushes the fitness limits of both competitors.
The shock-value of his fights along with the quality of offense and defense they create has been sorely missed since Cruz began his injury-induced extended hiatus from the cage. 2 years is way too much time to spend without seeing Dominick Cruz do his thing.
We’ve seen some great bantamweight bouts as of late, filled with outstanding performances and career-changing results. Urijah looked absolutely amazing in his win over Ivan Menjivar and Eddie Wineland’s wise use of reach and timing beat brawling specialist Brad Pickett at his own game. Yet from a hardcore fan’s perspective, no one puts on a show like Dom. Whether it’s the way he literally flies forward with those punches, dazzles his opponent with lightning-fast combinations or forcefully commands the top position, Cruz’s execution is simply unrivaled in the bantamweight division.
There’s no doubt that Renan Barao is a worthy interim champion who definitely has the talent to become a legend at 135 lbs. But the young Brazilian’s technique just isn’t as flashy or physically mind-boggling as Cruz’s, and his last two fights weren’t too exciting to watch. Granted, Barao is just 26 years old and is still in the process of perfecting his game, which is already pretty damn close to flawless. Maybe that’s the reason fans aren’t anticipating his next fight with Eddie Wineland at UFC 161 as much as expected, because Barao doesn’t really prefer to attack with full force or repeatedly close the distance to light up his opponent. This of course is not the case with Dominick Cruz, who constantly asserts control whenever he has the chance.
Perhaps the comparison of Cruz and Barao is what makes Cruz withdrawal so brutal. I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I cannot wait to see these two go at it both on the feet and on the ground. A striking match between Cruz and Barao would be an eye-gasm similar to Wanderlei Silva’s fight with Brian Stann a few weeks ago, only faster and probably longer as well. If they were to wrestle, whoever manages to keep his opponent on the ground for more than ten or fifteen seconds will gain some intimidating grappling credentials that will cement his legacy as champion in return.
Even though Michael McDonald put up a great fight when he fought Barao last month, it’s safe to say that Renan won’t be given the maximum amount of credit possible for a title holder until he successfully overcomes Cruz’s experience and technical mastery.
When Georges St. Pierre was injured and out of action for a while, we were still just about 100% sure he would have no problem taking out whoever won that interim belt. When it comes to the bantamweight division, there really isn’t a guarantee as to who’s going to come out on top when the time finally comes to crown the undisputed champion. So at this very moment, we honestly do not know who the hell the real bantamweight champion is!!! As you can see, the uncertainty is killing me.
Cruz versus Barao would be nothing short of epic and frankly, I can’t stand how long we’ve had to wait for it.