UFC 132: Ninja vs. Pirate. I mean, Cruz vs. Faber

In a matter of hours, Dominick Cruz will defend his belt against Urijah Faber, the only man to beat him in the cage as a professional.

And, by the way, they don’t like each other. And, I don’t mean that in a “they’re building hype to promote a Main Event” kind of way. I mean, they really don’t like each other. Did I mention how much they don’t like each other? OK, let’s put that aside for the time being.*

Fighting Dominick Cruz is like fighting a ninja. You see him, swing and he’s vanished! As your hand goes through the air, you feel his fist hit you. From watching his fights, that’s really the only way I can describe it. He doesn’t appear to have “knock-out power” in those fists, but repeated blows from them can certainly do damage. He has the speed advantage in this fight and, to use a well-worn but nonetheless true cliché, speed kills.

Urjiah Faber, on the other hand, is like a pirate. Sure, he’s trained in combat strikes and he’ll certainly utilize a technical gameplan, but just when he’s given you the impression that there’s a pattern to his style, he’ll do something unexpected and wild. He’s a risk-taker, willing to put himself in harm’s way to gain advantage. And it works incredibly well for him. He’s got power and wrestling on his side and, although he might not connect every time, as he’s quick to point out: he only needs to connect once to slow Cruz down enough to take him down and either throw a submission on him or control him and pound him out.

Like many of the best match-ups in MMA, this fight could end in an instant, or last all five rounds. Both guys have trained for each other. Faber upped his striking game and Cruz has worked on his ground game. Both have coaches who help them pick apart the other guy, and as long as they contain themselves, either guy can win. Let the emotion of the moment get away from them, and either guy could lose, too.

It may come down to who’s will breaks first.


*More on that in a rant, that is as of this writing, forthcoming.