In a terrific advert for the bantamweight division Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber produced five rounds of action at a frenetic pace, with the champion Cruz doing enough to eek out a unanimous decision win.
As you might expect from Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber the first round was fought at a frenetic pace.
Cruz was showing his trademark speed and footwork and snapped Faber’s head back with his first punch of the evening. Faber was looking quick and light on his feet too though and he landed the most significant punch of the round when he raced forward with a right hand that momentarily dropped Cruz.
Faber tried to replicate the same move later in the round but this time Cruz was waiting and landed flush with a well timed uppercut.
Round two was as exciting as the first. Cruz continued his relentless pace and was beginning to unleash some effective combinations of punches and kicks which forced Faber back at times.
Faber wasn’t quite matching Cruz’s pace now, but when he did connect he was landing the more hurtful blows, cracking Cruz with a right hand early in the round, and momentarily stumbling him to the floor later with another right.
A takedown for Cruz late in the round was big, although Faber showed his scrambling ability by quickly finding his way back to his feet. Cruz then followed up with another slick combination to close the round.
The third showcased more of Cruz’s impressive striking skills and footwork as he consistently found a home for his offensive output while Faber was having difficulty doing likewise.
What Faber did have in his favor was a successful takedown – rushing Cruz and taking his back before dragging him to the mat. Cruz then showed he too has good scrambling abiility by quickly reversing the position, though Faber stood back up swiftly and landed a well-timed punch on the way out.
On to the fourth and as the round progressed Cruz’s remarkable workrate was beginning to slow a litte, lacking a little of the spring in his step and pep in his punches that had been prominent in the early rounds.
Faber didn’t turn the pressure up too much however, but he did again have the most significant action of the round when he landed a hard right that sent Cruz reeling backwards across the Octagon.
It’s time for the fifth and final round of this fantastic fight and it’s extremely close so there’s all to play for.
Cruz seems to have his second wind now and he pushes the pace, and for a change it’s not so much his striking that’s making the difference, but a succession of takedowns.
Admittedly he never manages to get Faber down for more than a brief second or two, but they are enough to catch the judges eyes in an otherwise extremely close round.
And so the judges have a really tough job on their hands deciphering this one. The real crux of the matter is whether Cruz’s work-rate and volume of strikes landed is weighed more heavily, or if Faber’s more damaging blows caught the judges eyes.
In the end they see a clear winner with Cruz taking the unanimous decision victory (50-45, 49-46, 48-47).
Overall this was a great showcase for both Cruz and Faber and with the two men now having a win apiece against each other, a third encounter at some stage down the line certainly sounds like a viable option.
Credit to both fighters, and hats off in particular to Cruz for showing exactly how far he’s come in his overall game since the two men first fought in the WEC some four years ago.