Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz has never lost inside the hallowed Octagon, yet it's been incumbent champion T.J. Dillashaw who has found himself on the defensive from a man coming to get his belt back.
Cruz continued his assault during today's (Friday, Jan. 8, 2016) UFC Fight Night 81 media conference call (listen to the replay here).
The classical music before the broadcast, followed by the fourth world audio quality will have scared off all but the most hardcore, and potentially jobless, mixed martial arts (MMA) fans. Fortunately for you, some of us are paid to listen to eardrum damaging static in order to bring you the most relevant details.
Perhaps the most interesting comments were made by Cruz, who suggested Dillashaw's heavily publicized divorce with Team Alpha Male may have all been a PR stunt.
"He's still one of them. He's still a jock, still a meathead. He's still not that bright and he's still uses a lot of the fundamentals those guys use. That's what built him up into this sport so he's going to have a lot of those things. He's got new technicques from Ludwig. Ludwig's helped him move along and fix some techniques with his kickboxing and stuff but it's still an Alpha Male guy in my eyes."
Cruz went on to suggest Faber and Dillashaw are only "pretending to beef" to build up hype for both fighters.
A reporter in the conference call suggested it would actually be quite cunning of Dillashaw to conspire with Team Alpha Male in order to fabricate a beef that doesn't exist.
"It's funny that Dominick says I don't talk crap because I'm not very smart but I'm the one that's got the college degree and went to school. That's just because of the fact that I'm a martial artist and I show respect. I'm not trying to make a 'Conor McGregor effect' to talk crap and try to make money. I want to look back on my career and know I made the right choices."
Dillashaw has, for the most part, eschewed the opportunity to return fire against Cruz, giving credit to his opponent for holding the belt for a long time and presenting a stiff test for their Jan. 17, 2016 title fight. The former Alpha Male fighter also alluded to the big changes he's made in the past year.
"I've got to learn to do with this myself. I'm going to have to for the rest of my career. I fired my coach, who I've been working with my half my career, and moved out to Colorado. I have four other coaches that will get me in shape. I've never had this much attention."
Current fight odds favor the champion by as much as -132, while Cruz is riding as a slight betting underdog at +120 nine days out from their fight. And that's just dandy, according to the former champ.
"I'm at peace with myself. I have nothing to lose. I'm the underdog coming into this fight. I'm already counted out and that's fine with me."
Cruz will fight for just the second time since 2011 when he battles Dillashaw next Sunday. Despite the long career layoff, he is only 11 months older than the current champion.