Dominick Cruz Says It’s Nothing Personal With Dillashaw, But Is It With Faber?

dominick cruz

Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz recently made a thunderous return to the world of mixed martial arts by defeating tough No. 6-ranked Takeya Mizugaki at September 27’s UFC 178 pay-per-view (PPV) from Las Vegas.

After nearly three years off rehabbing several serious injuries, many were wondering just how Cruz would respond with the pressure heaped heavily upon his shoulders. He obviously rose to the occasion, finishing Mizugaki in the first round and promptly calling out Team Alpha Male with his now-infamous “Team Alpha Fail” line.

Having never lost his belt, Cruz was immediately penciled in as the next rightful contender to Team Alpha Male champion TJ Dillashaw’s belt. It’s a blockbuster bout the likes of which we’ve rarely if ever seen in the UFC 135-pound arena, and it’s one that Dillashaw is apparently ready for. He called Cruz’s jab at his team “a little bit uncalled for,” adding that he’s ready to put Cruz into retirement.

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However, that should be easier said than done, as Cruz, who had put together a long string of decision wins prior to his injuries, looked arguably as dangerous and effective as we’ve ever seen at UFC 178. “The Dominator” believes that the belt, which was given to former champion Renan Barao when Cruz withdrew from their UFC 169 unification bout with a groin injury, is still his.

He told MMA Junkie Radio that he’s ready to beat all of Team Alpha Male’s fighters if need be, focusing on the belief that he’s had success against Dillashaw’s style of fighting in the past:

“It just goes back a long time, man. The truth is, I cut one head off and another one keeps popping up. So I’ve already realized in my head, I’m fighting these guys. If it’s all of them, OK, let’s do it. I have a good track record against their style of fighting, and it’s not a personal thing when it comes to T.J. Dillashaw. It’s just, man, he’s got my belt, and he thinks it’s his, and it’s not. So it’s me vs. Team Alpha Male.”

Cruz seems to be all about business with Dillashaw, but his true rivalry is with Team Alpha Male founder Urijah Faber. The only loss on Cruz’s record was to a first round submission from “The California Kid” at WEC 26 in 2007, a loss that Cruz avenged with a somewhat controversial decision win at UFC 132 in 2011.

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Cruz tore his ACL while preparing to face Faber again at the end of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Live in mid-2012, so it’s clear that the two have some unfinished business that could get sorted out if Cruz takes the belt from Dillashaw and Faber continues to beat up opponents in non-title fights. He’s never lost such a bout in his entire career, but he has lost six consecutive title bids dating back to 2008.

Many are already picking Cruz to beat Dillashaw, and it’s widely believed that “The Viper” emulated Cruz’s movement-heavy style to take the belt from Barao in his shocking upset at UFC 173.

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If he does, there are going to be some huge fights for him on the horizon, including his awaited match-up with Barao and his trilogy fight with Faber. Which one do you want to see most?

Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie for USA TODAY Sports