Dominick Cruz looked to defend his Bantamweight belt tonight (Sat., June 4, 2016) at the expense of bitter rival, Urijah Faber, in the UFC 199 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event inside The Forum in Inglewood, California. It was a trilogy match, with both fighters owning a previous win, making this bout about a championship belt, as well as lifetime bragging rights.
Take a bow, Mr. Cruz, who coasted to an action-packed, dominant five-round decision over "California Kid."
The pair wasted little time getting to work, setting a furious pace that almost had Faber literally fighting out of his shorts as the scrambles were out of control. Faber threatened early with a guillotine choke, then he later got a hold of Cruz's ankle as his back was turned and used it to blast him with a left hook along the cage. Four minutes in and Cruz looked exhausted, taking deep breaths, his mouth wide open. Faber, meanwhile, appeared to be the fresher fighter, closing the distance and refusing to play Cruz's frustrating in-and-out game.
To start the second, Cruz landed a straight left hand that dropped Faber to his butt. Faber -- who landed a sneaky upkick as Cruz charged in -- was able to get back to his feet. However, Cruz could smell blood in the water and turned up the aggression. He landed two more stiff jabs and then a low kick as it appeared that Faber was able to shake off the immediate shock of the knockdown. Faber became remarkably less confident after the knockdown, retreating and shadow boxing, landing nothing of significance as it appeared Cruz began to slip into auto pilot for the final few minutes of the round.
Cruz started the third frame with another solid leg kick as Faber struggled to close the distance. Faber dove in for a takedown, failed, and Cruz whacked him with a hard right hand on the break as punishment. Cruz later landed a looping left hook, then another combination, that appeared have an affect on Faber. He was unable to put anything meaningful together, seemingly frustrated with Cruz's unorthodox style and stinging punches.
Heading into the championship rounds, it was clear that Faber needed to kick it up a notch if he had any chance of pulling off the upset. But, the sense of urgency led to another knockdown mid-way through the fourth round as Cruz stopped him dead in his tracks as he attempted to close the distance. Faber caught him with a clean right hand in the fifth and final frame, but it did little to slow the frenetic pace that Cruz sets. Cruz would go onto win a unanimous decision, settling their feud an impressive win in their rubbermatch, and, in the process, earning bragging rights over his arch enemy.