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Tag: Dominick Cruz

Ben vs. Seth: UFC 169 Edition


(…and if you turn the poster over, you’ll see Ben and Seth, butt to butt.)

UFC 169 is poppin’ off this Saturday in Newark, featuring two title fights, a must-win battle between a pair of fading heavyweight legends, and a bunch of other crap that you may or may not care about. Join us as CagePotato founding editor Ben Goldstein and editor emeritus Seth Falvo debate the major storylines surrounding the event, from Urijah Faber‘s resurrected title hopes to our always iron-clad gambling advice (LOL), and much more. Enjoy…

True or false: Even though Urijah Faber has already been beaten once by Renan Barao, he still has a better chance of becoming champion this weekend than Ricardo Lamas does.

BG: True. Barao has proven that he’s a better fighter than Faber, but the Cali Kid is so talented and dangerous that nobody really outclasses him at 135. If Barao has a bad night and Faber has a good night, it’s within the realm of possibility that Faber could find a way to choke him out; their skills aren’t that far apart. And maybe there isn’t a talent-gap whatsoever. The fact that Faber’s five WEC/UFC losses have all come in title fights — and the fact that he’s still undefeated in non-title fights, after a full decade of competition — suggests that perhaps there’s some kind of psychological block that’s preventing the California Kid from firing on all cylinders when a belt’s on the line. (Then again, that’s probably the best reason to pick against him on Saturday.) But in this chaotic sport, anything can happen. No absurd win streak lasts forever, and sometimes the sun shines on an old veteran’s ass, so to speak.

SF: False, and not just because this column would be really boring if we both agreed with each other. No one is denying that Urijah Faber is an outstanding talent, but you pretty much made my point for me when you wrote “if Barao has a bad night and Faber has a good night” in regards to his chances of becoming the bamtamweight champion. Lamas, on the other hand…okay fine, his odds aren’t looking any better. Both men have the same slim chances of walking out of The Prudential Center with their respective division’s title, making “Faber has a better chance” technically wrong, and me technically correct. And everyone knows that technically correct is the best kind of correct.

Let’s say Barao defeats Faber on Saturday. Let’s say that he also never fights Dominick Cruz. Does that make Barao’s title run any less legitimate?

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Six Massive UFC Fights That Could Actually Happen in 2014


(Meanwhile, Alex’s friends were parked outside with a giant magnet. / Photo via Getty)

By Nasir Jabbar

With Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, and Cain Velasquez all currently out of action due to injuries or bitter hiatuses, UFC executives will be scratching their heads trying to come up with marquee fights in 2014. But amidst this gloom, there are a few massive fights that could still happen. Some are more realistic than others, but if the stars align, these matchups would no doubt fill the void. Let’s run them down in order of probability…

Major fights within reach

Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson 2 or Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier: Very few gave Gustafsson the chance to last twenty-five minutes with the champ, let alone nearly dethrone him. The two engaged in a thrilling yet technical battle at UFC 165, which was as entertaining as it was controversial — making a rematch very interesting and potentially lucrative for the UFC. Prior to his first meeting with the Mauler, Jones had dominated every one of his opponents, which led to the New Yorker searching for his “Frazier”, the worthy rival who would define his legacy. Gustafsson could very much play that role as they look to meet again.

On the other hand, Daniel Cormier could play that role just as well. Unlike Gustafsson, Cormier has a genuine dislike towards Jones which would only add hype towards the fight. But, of course, the two potential challengers would have to get by Jimi Manuwa and Rashad Evans, respectively, to get their title shots. And of course there’s a hard-hitting Brazilian named Glover Teixeira who might derail these plans altogether.

Jose Aldo vs. BJ Penn: Incredibly, Penn is looking to become a three-weight world champion as he embarks on his unexpected new life as a featherweight. Before his year-long break from the sport, Penn had been fighting at welterweight without much success. (He hasn’t won a match since his quick knockout of Matt Hughes back in November 2010.) Penn will make his 145-pound debut against old rival Frankie Edgar as he looks to avenge, not one, but two defeats. Even though there is a connection between Penn and Aldo’s head coach Andre Pederneiras, the Prodigy would surely jump at the chance to compete for a belt.

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BREAKING: Dominick Cruz Tears Groin & Vacates Title, Faber vs. Barao II at UFC 169


(“That’s UFC Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz leading today’s pack…wait a minute…he appears to be veering off the track and…yep, he’s headed for the medical tent. This cannot be good, ladies and gentlemen.” Photo via Getty.)

To borrow a phrase from the Co-Main Event Podcast, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?”

Dominick Cruz is injured. A-G-A-I-N. Groin tear this time. He has vacated the bantamweight title (a lot of that going around lately…) and in his absence, interim champion Renan Barao has been promoted to undisputed champ and will rematch Urijah Faber at UFC 169 with his first official defense on the line. The announcement was made by Dana White on Sportscenter at 4:30 EST.

Faber will be fighting on less than a month’s notice. It should be noted that the last time these two met, the result was the worst card of the year.

All things considered, I’m kind of excited for this. No, seriously. It’s not just that my New Year’s Resolution was to be less cynical (also, stop waking up naked in cornfields with blood on my hands). This has been a long time coming for Cruz.

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UFC Super Bowl Weekend 2014 Card Headlined by Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao, Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas


(“Let’s keep it goin’ for Paula Sack, folks. She’s beautiful, talented, *and* she can burp the alphabet in two languages.” / Photo via Getty)

The UFC confirmed last night that UFC 169 — the promotion’s Super Bowl Weekend card that’s scheduled for February 1st, 2014, in Newark — will be headlined by a pair of title fights in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions.

In the main event, bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will emerge from a 28-month hibernation to face Renan Barao, the interim champ who’s been steady wrecking fools in Cruz’s absence. UFC president Dana White has “made it pretty clear” that if Cruz has to pull out of this title unification bout with another injury, he’ll finally be stripped of his belt and Barao will be named the official champion.

In the co-main event, 145-pound champ (and Barao’s Nova Uniao homeboyJose Aldo will attempt to make his sixth UFC title defense against top contender Ricardo Lamas, who’s 4-0 in the UFC including stoppage wins against Cub Swanson and Erik Koch. Aldo is coming off his four-round shredding of Chan Sung Jung at UFC 163, which gave the Brazilian his 16th consecutive victory overall, as well as a broken foot.

Got any predictions, Potato Nation? And are two competitive title fights in the lighter weight classes just as interesting as one Jon Jones squash match?

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UFC to Set Time Limit on How Long Injured Champs *Cough*DominickCruz*Cough* Can Be Inactive Before Being Stripped of Titles


(“Wheeeeeeee!” / Photo via @TheDomin8r)

UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has had horrible luck over the past two years. He’s torn the ACL in his knee twice, endured multiple surgeries, and has not fought a single time. Yet, he’s remained the official champion of the division while interim titlist Renan Barao has defended his belt twice.

Cruz hopes to be back early in 2014 and head straight into a unification bout against Barao. If he doesn’t, however, he may finally find himself stripped of his title. And according to UFC president Dana White, the organization will now make plans to set a time limit for how long champs can stay champs while sidelined.

“We have thought about it, and we will do it,” White told members of the media Monday. “We’re probably going to do that soon.”

It is about time the UFC did this. We don’t have a negative word to say about Cruz who has earned everything he’s ever gotten and who we feel genuinely bad for given all his bad luck, but it looks plain silly for Barao to be only an interim champion at this point. White seems to agree with those conflicted feelings.

“It’s a combination of me feeling really bad for him, and him being such a good person. … Do I think we let it play out too long? Maybe. But if I look at who the champion is, then I say no. I feel bad for the kid,” White said.

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Renan Barao’s Interim Title Defense at UFC 165 Will (Hopefully) Be His Last


(Barao’s success in MMA has caught the attention of Hollywood. He’ll be appearing in the next ‘Fast & Furious’ movie, playing the part of a dead raccoon lying by the side of the road. / Photo via Getty)

Already the longest-reigning interim champion in UFC history in terms of time holding the belt, bantamweight phenom Renan Barao could become the first UFC fighter to defend an interim belt twice when he takes on Eddie Wineland later this month at UFC 165. But being an interim champ isn’t exactly something that Barao takes pride in.

No disrespect to [Dominick Cruz], but from the moment I won this belt, and I have defended it once, I considered myself the champion,” Barao said yesterday during a UFC 165 conference call.

We can see how Barao might be confused, considering that he does in fact own a championship belt, and the real champ is nowhere in sight. Cruz, of course, has been sidelined for nearly two years due to a blown ACL and resulting complications. And although the UFC has been patient with “The Dominator”‘s long absence, the promotion may finally be setting an ultimatum on his return. As UFC president Dana White said during the conference call:

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Dominick Cruz Eyes Early 2014 Return, Has No Intention of Vacating Bantamweight Title


(…and until then, we’ll just have to settle for awkward fist-pose photos. / Props: @RenanBaraoUFC)

UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz was a dominant one before he became an absent one. It has been nearly two years since Cruz has fought, thanks to two consecutive ACL tears in his knee, but the injured champ hopes to return early next year.

“I’m looking to be back the beginning of next year is what it’s looking like from what the doctors have told me, so that’s my goal. Unfortunately, the doctor hasn’t even released me, so I couldn’t even make a date if I wanted to,” Cruz recently told MMA Junkie.

“It’s like when you got knocked out and you get put on suspension. It’s the same type of deal with this injury. There’s a set time and stipulation with a knee injury that I’ve gone through, especially doubled. So I’m just listening to the doctor so I stay back and don’t just come back.”

So, the up-side is that Cruz, who probably knows his own body better than anyone, is optimistic at this point. The bad news is that when he returns isn’t completely up to him.

When he does return, however, Cruz says it will be in a title fight. He scoffed at the notion that he’d vacate his title and take a “warm-up” fight first. If someone wants his title, they’ll have to take it from him in the Octagon.

“First of all, it’s silly to think that a champion would ever willingly give away the belt that he’s worked for,” Cruz explained.

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Dominick Cruz Now the Only Person No Longer Concerned About Defending His Bantamweight Belt


(Cruz, seen here showing off the results of his latest trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s. Those ball pits can be VICIOUS.) 

For the past two years, the UFC’s bantamweight division has been an absolute ghost town, plagued by injury to the point that even its replacement champion hasn’t been able to come out unscathed. I can’t remember the last time I typed Dominick Cruz’s name into the CagePotato CMS, to be honest — as I do it now, a message asks me if I meant “Domino’s Crust” and that doesn’t even make any goddamn sense.

While there’s not much than anyone can do to speed up Cruz’s recovery time — the man is coming off double knee surgery (including a botched cadaver-ACL transplant), for Christ’s sake — there comes a time when a champion’s inability to defend his own belt should come at a cost. Paul Taylor was recently released by the UFC simply because he has been plagued by injury and incredibly bad luck since 2011. Not that he and Cruz are exactly comparable in terms of their standings in the promotion, but at what point should the UFC step in and force Cruz to hand over his baseball to the kids who can actually play with it? It’s a question that the champ himself cannot answer, but if you think he is even worried about it, think again:

I can’t worry about the belt. It’s really not my position to decide whether I keep it because I’ve been injured or whether Dana takes it or whether Barao has it. The belt is there. The bottom line is me getting healthy so I can go out there and do what I do best which is prove why I am where I am today.

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Interim UFC Champ Barao Pulls Out of UFC 161 Title Defense Against Eddie Wineland

Tatame by way of Bloody Elbow reports that June 15th’s UFC 161 has lost its main event. UFC interim 135 pound champion Renan Barao was set to face Eddie Wineland in the event’s headlining match but the Brazilian has reportedly been forced to pull out due to injury.

Barao is reported to have injured a foot. He became the interim champion by beating Urijah Faber after champion Dominick Cruz went on injured reserve because of multiple knee ligament injuries. Wineland is on a two-fight win streak and Barao recently defended the interim belt by choking out Michael McDonald and earning his 20th consecutive win.

As of yet, the extent of Barao’s injury is unknown and so then is how long he will be out of action. No word yet from the UFC, either, on a substitution main event for UFC 161.

You up for an interim-interim bantamweight champ, nation?

- Elias Cepeda

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Interview: Urijah Faber Breaks Down His Upcoming MMA Combine, MMADraft.com, Optical Panacea Posters, And Cruz vs. Barao


(An excerpt from Urijah Faber’s Optical Panacea poster. Click the image to see the full-size extended version.)

By Ben Goldstein

From the very beginning of his career, Urijah Faber understood that he could be so much more than just a guy throwing punches in a cage. The California Kid bought his own gym in 2006, and went on to build one of the most successful fight teams in the sport. He’s partnered up with apparel brands ranging from K-Swiss to Torque. He’s written a book. And he’s been the entrepreneurial driving force behind a number of forward-thinking enterprises, including MMADraft.com — a site he launched with Phil Davis that seeks to find better opportunities and wider attention for amateur fighters — and Optical Panacea, a new company that elevates MMA fighter posters into fine art.

With Faber awaiting his next fight-assignement from the UFC, we spent some time on the phone with him yesterday to discuss all of the projects that will keep him hustling this summer, from the first-ever MMA Combine that will take place at the next UFC Fan Expo on July 6th, to the public launch party for Optical Panacea that will be going down next Friday in Las Vegas. (Be there!) Enjoy, and be sure to follow Urijah on Twitter @UrijahFaber.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: It’s been a month since your submission win over Scott Jorgensen at the TUF 17 Finale. Has the UFC given you any word on when they want you to return, or offered you your next opponent?

URIJAH FABER: I haven’t heard anything. I’ve kind of been on vacation, but I’m looking forward to continuing training and doing big things.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: Duane Ludwig has been getting a lot of attention lately for his work as the head coach at Team Alpha Male. Is there one thing he’s specifically told you or taught you that’s helped to improve your game?

URIJAH FABER: I think one thing in particular is that we’ve been doing a lot of drilling. As wrestlers, we’ve all drilled a lot with our wrestling techniques, and now we’re bringing that into the other avenues as well. Duane’s got some awesome drills, and he has a great system down — the Duane Bang Muay Thai system — that we’re all learning. I was definitely able to incorporate a little bit of that into my standup [in my last fight], and it’s only going to get better.

CAGEPOTATO.COM: Tell me a little about the MMA Combine for amateur fighters that you and Phil Davis are hosting at the next UFC Fan Expo in July. How close will this be to something like the NFL Scouting Combine, and what are some of the testing criteria that will be specific to MMA?

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