Dominick Cruz is all set to defend his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bantamweight title against Cody Garbrandt in the co-main event of UFC 207 on Dec. 30, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
While the booking may have left a sour taste in other contender’s mouths — specifically T.J. Dillashaw’s — it’s a showdown fans are eagerly awaiting due to the growing rivalry. As is Cruz himself, as he says though "No Love" may not be a top-five ranked opponent, he talked his way into the title fight and he’s determined to make him regret it.
"We’re in the fight business and this is a fight, plain and simple. He isn’t in the top five of the division, and it’s my job to go out there and prove it," said Cruz on a recent edition of The MMA Hour.
"He did talk himself into this fight, 100 percent. It’s my job to go out there and fight him. I want to fight him, I want to fight this man because it sparks interests and there is a beef there. This guy has been running his mouth a lot. So it’s my job to go out there and shut it for him and show him why he is nowhere near the level he thinks he is," added Cruz.
With three straight first-round knockout wins inside the Octagon -- and six more early stoppage wins on his resume — Garbrandt has shown he has the power in his fists to end the fight early.
While that’s a great tool to possess, Cruz says it won’t be enough to defeat someone like himself. And he reminds everyone that former interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin also had first-round finishing ability, but couldn’t deliver once the fight made it past the opening frame.
"Yes, he’s got knockouts on his record in the first round, but so did Shane Carwin and we all saw what happened to him when he went out there past the first round, didn’t we?"
Still, Cruz isn’t convinced "No Love" has the well-rounded game or smarts you need to defeat an experienced champion like himself.
"And that’s what this game is. This game is one where you have to be able to mix it up, not just one round and show how dominant you can be with your power, but you have to have more than power. You have to have power, ring generalship, know how to mix things up and how to win in the clinch, takedowns, over-unders; you have to understand how to get off your back without threatening yourself," he said.
"You have to understand how to keep it after you earn it. And with a style that's only proven to be able to go two, three rounds, that’s a tough style to deal with against somebody like me and that is what this matchup is about," concluded Cruz.
Riding a 13-fight win streak, Cruz defend his strap most recently against Cody’s mentor, Urijah Faber (video highlights here). Prior to that, "The Dominator" reclaimed his 135-pound strap against another former Faber disciple, T.J. Dillashaw (see it).
Will Cruz be able to pick up yet another win against another member of Team Alpha Male this New Year’s Eve? Or will Garbrandt get some revenge for his brothers in training?