Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz’s beef helped shape the UFC


– [Will] This is Urijah Faber. – He keeps talking about how he’s been touching the belt, it sounds like some sort of pervert. Pick up the belt like a man.
– That’s why he’s The California Kid. – [Will] This is Dominick Cruz. – I’ll bring a soapbox for you to talk on when we weigh in, all right? That way you can look at me
– Hey I’m, hey, I’m the perfect–
– in the eyes like a man. – If it wasn’t clear from them talking to and about one
another, they don’t get along. They beefed for nearly a
decade, had a trilogy of fights and their hatred for each
other was strong enough that it actually helped
shape the future of the UFC. (soft instrumental music) The history between Urijah
Faber and Dominick Cruz was beefy from day one. Set to fight in March of
2007, things sparked ahead of their first meet up at
World Extreme Cagefighting 26. As soon as the pair were introduced to one another, Cruz felt slighted. Faber eyed the challenger
up and down in a way that gave Cruz further reason
to look forward to the fight. He got a chance to take
out some frustration thanks to the event’s promoters. As Faber chronicled in his
book “The Laws of the Ring”, the fighters had to sign posters, they just happened to not
have Cruz’s picture on them. So in protest, every
signature that Cruz made was placed right across Faber’s face. Petty, yes. But it’s pretty good beefception. It helps a little bit to know where these guys were coming from. By 2007, Faber was already
The California Kid. He was marketable even before the sport broke into the mainstream. And as a fighter in a lighter
weight class, that was huge. He wasn’t too far removed
from having to bus tables, sell self-made shirts,
serve as an assistant coach for the football team at UC Davis, all while training for fights that weren’t guaranteed to even happen. And with all that going on, Faber had lost just once in
his professional MMA career. He became the featherweight
champion of the WEC, an organization that in
2006 was purchased by Zuffa and was serving more or less
as the UFC’s battleground for bantam and featherweights. So, as the matchup with Cruz loomed, he was essentially big time in a world where it wasn’t easy to gain status. Meanwhile his opponent was
back where Faber had been a few years prior. Cruz was still working a full-time job as he trained for a chance at the belt. He didn’t have a cornerman or a manager, but neither the work nor
the chance at a championship was too foreign for Cruz. He had worked multiple jobs to put himself through college, and while
trying to make a name for himself took whatever came his way. After a fight at 155 pounds fell through, he was offered one at 145
with two weeks notice. He took the fight, won
it and then proceeded to earn both the lightweight
and featherweight championships in a promotion called Total Combat. Those titles, plus an undefeated record, earned him a chance with the
WEC and a date with Faber. Leading up to the fight, Faber
didn’t seem too stressed. He didn’t even watch any
of Cruz’s previous fights. And once March 24th, 2007 came around, the 27 year old vet taught the 21 year old challenger a lesson. Faber caught Cruz in a guillotine choke, Cruz tapped and the fight was over, just a minute and 38 seconds
into the first round. And from there everyone had
to wait for another serving. After the first professional
loss of his career, Cruz dropped down to bantamweight, while Faber continued to
defend his featherweight belt. That is until he faced Mike Brown. He lost his title, then two fights later made it 0-2 against Brown. Another two fights after that, he once again had a chance
to recapture the belt but this time lost to Jose Aldo. Despite those challenges, part of his mind was still on Cruz. Even though he got the
win when they faced off, Faber hadn’t shaken the disrespect. He thought of Cruz as an immature punk, and Faber made it clear
he didn’t like the guy. After his record quickly dropped from 21-1 to 23-4, Faber joined
Cruz at bantamweight. And Cruz at bantamweight
had become a scary thing. When Faber changed classes in 2010, Cruz had already set
himself up at the top. After the loss to The California Kid, Cruz put together a fresh win streak, which including two decisions
over Joseph Benavidez, one of the members of Team Alpha Male, which had been founded by Faber. The second of those was
a defense of the WEC bantamweight belt, which
Cruz had won a fight earlier. And as he defended it through 2010, the timing worked out pretty well. The WEC and UFC fully
merged on January 1st, 2011. This meant a few things, the lighter weight classes of WEC would now get a larger stage. With that came bigger paydays
as the UFC could afford to pay their fighters better. Faber was excited for what it meant, both for the sport and for himself. And as one of the WEC’s
most marketable faces, there was a sense of
relief that he no longer had to solely carry the
load for the promotion. But while Faber dreamt
of owning a UFC belt, for Cruz it was already a reality. Since the UFC didn’t have
a bantamweight division, once Cruz defended his title at WEC 53 against Scott Jorgensen, he became the UFC’s bantamweight champ. That also meant he could
call out whoever he wanted, and he went straight for Faber. He even offered an excuse for his doubters and guaranteed this time
around his focus would allow everyone to see that he was on
a different level from Faber. And wouldn’t you know, the UFC heard him. The rematch was set for July 2011. Faber made his intentions clear, while also perfectly dating
when all of this went down. The beef is back. Now with a fresh date
things heated back up. Cruz spoke about how everything
had ramped up even further. New shots were fired and he put his thoughts simply, Faber sucks. For Faber, leading up to
the fight he scored himself as the favorite in most categories and made sure to point out
where Cruz’s deficiencies were. He criticized Cruz for
not finishing his fights and if prophesying wasn’t enough, he didn’t let folks forget what happened the first time around. Basically, while he
lost a couple of fights, he never lost his confidence. But none of it phased Cruz. While defending his belt, he had handled everything
Team Alpha Male threw his way and knew that was hurting Faber in a way that records couldn’t show. The talk never ended
leading up to the fight, and once again for promotional sake they were forced into close quarters. Before they could headline the event, they spent time at Camp Pendleton training with some marines. They had to work together
and chatted face to face. Faber got to know Cruz a
bit better as a person. While he had no plans
other than taking the belt, he got a better sense at
what pushed his opponent. Cruz was Faber’s opposite as
far as what motivated him. According to Urijah the
champ fed off of negativity. He was fueled by jealousy and revenge while Faber was all about positivity. But The California Kid still knew what it was all about
at the end of the day, and regardless of the outcome
not much would change. Faber was hoping one
thing would change though, he came into the rematch 0-3 in his recent title
fights and knew there was a little extra on the
line this time around. He also figured a win for
him was a win for the UFC, as in his mind no one would
ever respect Cruz as the champ. Faber wasn’t necessarily wrong. As of that moment, he
was capable of bringing more money to the UFC than Cruz could, but thankfully these
fights aren’t scripted. The guys battled and fought,
and went the whole five rounds. And after both fighters
backed up their talk, the judges unanimously decided that Cruz would keep the belt. He defended his UFC
championship and in his mind was back to being undefeated
now that he avenged the only loss in his career. Cruz proved his doubters
wrong and made plans to stick around for a long time. He also found a new way to poke Faber. After the decision, Cruz’s
corner presented him with a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu. This was in response to
Faber having his brown belt ceremony after he beat Eddie
Wineland in his UFC debut. It was an untraditional move, usually reserved for
black belt presentations. But for Cruz, his ceremony
was all about the message. It was a way to say, hey
Faber, you just lost to a guy who before the fight hadn’t earned a belt other than what you get as
a day one Jiu-Jitsu student. And as folks immediately
asked for a third fight, Cruz was just a little
confident in his chances against Faber if they got a rubber match. After Cruz successfully defended the belt against Demetrious Johnson,
the UFC decided to schedule the trilogy fight in
the grandest of fashion. The duo was tagged to coach
“The Ultimate Fighter” TV show and headline the event at its conclusion. Unfortunately, while filming the season Cruz tore his ACL, and bad turned to worse when his body rejected the cadaver. So, a second surgery was needed, which sidelined him an
additional 12 months. At that point, Cruz had
been forced out of action long enough that the UFC decided an interim title was necessary. Faber put the rivalry aside
and wished Cruz the best. He had watched his foe rise up in the UFC and recognized that the passion he had was great for the sport. Plus, until Cruz got healthy, Faber couldn’t prove
himself the better fighter. But his legacy took another
hit when he lost to Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight title. Once Cruz’s knee was 100%, a
date was set to unify the belt. This time though, The Dominator
was forced out of the fight with Barao due to a groin tear. With that, his title was vacated and Faber once again
stepped up into his place. But, once again, Barao
got the best of him, this time in the first round. So, it was a tough
period for both fighters. But tough times are really just beef fuel. A few things happened,
Faber strung together a couple wins, then swapped decisions with the Frankies, Edgar then Saenz. Cruz got healthy, and
after knocking out Mizugaki just over a minute into his return, went and beat a member of
Team Alpha Male, TJ Dillashaw, to once again sit atop
the bantamweight division. With that, the next reasonable step was to complete the trilogy, and that meant Cruz and Faber
would again share a stage, a true gift to all. – He keeps talking about how he’s been touching the belt,
– Look he takes, he’s like a little kid.
– it sound like some sort of pervert. Pick up the belt like a man.
– That’s why he’s The California Kid. I’ll bring a soapbox for you to talk on when we weigh in, all right? That way you can look at me
– Hey I’m, hey, I’m the perfect height.
– in the eyes like a man. – [Urijah] Don’t worry about that. – You and your close eyes. – I’m gonna whoop this
dude, it’s gonna be ugly. – You have nothing but excuses, and you’re gonna have more excuses after I beat you tomorrow. – [Urijah] Sweet, not gonna happen. – [Will] The duo proved that despite being almost a decade old, their
beef was as fresh as ever. Most of the press conference
was spent with one of them trying to prove the other
wrong, no matter the topic. Even Dana White knew this
was something special. – [Journalist] For you, do you feel this is one of the greatest
rivalries in MMA history? – Yeah, they’re two of the
best in the division ever and this goes a long way. He won the first fight,
he won the second fight, and this is the trilogy fight. And obviously these two
do not like each other, and these are fun fights when they happen. – And once it happened, it
was again a win for Cruz. He lived up to his Dominator
nickname on the way to another unanimous decision. As Cruz remained undefeated
when defending the title, Faber dropped to 0-4 in his attempts to win a belt in the UFC. He was for once left somewhat speechless, and gave credit to Cruz. Afterward, Faber who was at
this point nearly 13 years into his professional career,
had the future on his mind. And while he was mainly
talking about retirement, there was a different part of the future also tied to Faber’s legacy. And that different part went
by the name Cody Garbrandt. He was the latest young
bantamweight to represent Team Alpha Male and he
was quickly on the rise, making some noise in hopes
of a chance at the belt. But for Cruz, he wasn’t listening. He insisted the kid wasn’t on his radar, other than as another way
for Faber to make some money. And considering his success
against Faber, Dillashaw and Benavidez, Cruz wasn’t
about to sweat what else that team could throw at him. Having not lost in over nine years, he was who everyone else had to set their sights on, in the same way Cruz used to be looking up at Faber. I mean look at this Garbrandt quote, while the confidence was
definitely a theme from Alpha Male, it also showed how long Cruz had dominated and forced every young
bantamweight to dream of the chance to take him on. Garbrandt continued to
make his presence known and looked to have fully
taken the flame from Faber. But Cruz responded to Team Alpha Male as a whole, get in line. He really wasn’t concerning
himself with them and had his mind on bigger things, like finding a way to
make a super fight happen. As for the Alpha Male leader, he nixed the idea of hanging
it up and was still hoping to get back on top. But a loss to Jimmie
Rivera three months later forced him to change his tune. He announced that his next
fight would be his last, and he’d get to call it a
career back in his hometown. With that decision, it
looked like the beef would retire with him. Cruz wished his rival nothing but the best and praised what Faber
had been able to do. He finally opened up about how much Faber meant to his own career. He credited The California
Kid with making it possible for lighter weight fighters
to even be a thing. He said that without Faber,
an early star in the sport, the lighter weight classes
might not have been made. While Faber was at the top, Cruz was learning and growing under him and there was an appreciation for that. And once Faber got the
decision against Brad Pickett, the pair fully put the rivalry to rest. On FS1’s post-fight show,
Cruz gave him a gift. He presented Faber with a poster
from their very first fight that he had signed, but this
time not across Urijah’s face. – I would say you could write
on my face, but guess what? It’s not on there. – [Will] With that and a handshake, it was all in the past for these two. But a week later, Cruz’s
beef with the Alpha Males continued as Garbrandt had managed to get a shot at the belt. And after nearly a decade of domination, Cruz lost for just the
second time in his career. While not ideal for the man himself, it feels like a perfect ending
to the individual rivalry. The loss returned Cruz to a place he’d have to fight up from. It gave him fresh motivation
as he’d always been driven by being the underdog and by negativity. And while he no longer had Faber actively breathing down his neck, the fighter he had grown into and the place he had established himself in was in part thanks
to his long time rival. That rival now was able to
sit back and let the team he built run the show in the division that he had also helped build. His career, long guided by
confidence and positivity, had paid off in a way
that let him once again sit atop the division without needing to do the actual fighting. And while the itch would return, bringing him out of retirement for a fight against Ricky Simon, the beef with Cruz has
remained in the past. Their rivalry helped grow the
sport into what it is today. It paved the way for
smaller guys to make money and build names for themselves. And in simpler terms, it
was entertaining as hell. Congratulations, now you
don’t have to eat lunch. Subscribe to SB Nation and if you want hit the bell for notifications. Since you’ve stuck around, here’s a true fight
classic that you’ll love. It’s a rewinder of Tyson versus Douglas, or dive into this other
video and we’ll see ya soon. (soft instrumental music)

100 Replies to “Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz’s beef helped shape the UFC”

  1. My blood cousin is Joseph Benavidez New Mexico Represents 💚💚🏆🏆🏆💯💥🔥 #Chicano #MexiCan #FlyEaglesFly #LasCruces

  2. By the way I didn't mention how Bad Ass This Video Was I Appreciate Everything From the Background Music to the Sheer Research you put in This I Have A Whole New Respect for this Sport and All the Great Fighters in this vid(Including my cousin jojo2times)

  3. The only thing Faber did for the UFC is he showed that top fighters from other promotions aren’t always gonna be successful in the UFC he went from a WEC legend to barely a mid card.

  4. WRONG !! Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock and the Lions Den was the 1st great rivalry in the UFC then Tito vs Liddell. Everyone loved to hate Tito. And it was Amusing .

  5. Everyone fuckoff! I'm the keyboard warrior! I am like Tom Sawyer! If you touch me I'll hire a lawyor! …. too much preworkout… damn jeckel and hide…

  6. In the history of the UFC or MMA in general, has there ever been a rivalry in which an individual fighter had beef with an entire gym?

  7. I hope Faber gets a shot at the title just due to his legacy in the sport and never being able to grasp gold in the UFC (I think Henry is his best chance at winning as he is a 125er but big). Buuuut, I listened the the Aljaman Sterling JRE pod today and heard he's retiring at 32 (respect). He's a true title contender with 2 years left to win gold. Sucks for both of them tbh. (Kinda like the Michael Bisping thing. Guy from the old era getting one last shot when they aren't really in contention)

  8. Point of information for (1:38), Urijah didn't serve as an assistant coach for football, rather he was helping Lennie Zalesky with the Aggie wrestling team while using the wrestling area as an impromptu training center. Fun fact: Mark Munoz was also on the wrestling staff at that point. Two of the nicest guys who ever worked here.

  9. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA….no, absolutely no. Urijah Faber was an okey fighter, Dominick too, but they were actually on the small picture, on the side.
    I certainly loved Urijah and felt like he deserved to win the belt,and the same felt the organization, as they gave him multiple title shots, but i would never put him as an influence ¨that helped shape the UFC¨. Before Urijah Faber's first fight in the UFC, they were already a big brand name and the biggest in the U.S. when it came to MMA. Even Urijah's biggest fight isnt on the top 10.

    I love that he came back…i loved that knockout, and i wish him the best, but he never shaped the UFC, that would be crazy to say.

  10. You should verify with Brave Browser so I can send your tips for your content. This video was great! When I use Brave, it blocks adds so you don't revenue from my views, but I can send tips via Brave which uses a crypto currency called Basic Attention Token. Dominick Cruz is the GOAT.

  11. "I'll bring a soapbox for you to talk on when we weigh in so you can look me in the eyes like a man. You and your close eyes." Best line of all time.

  12. aw man I remember when Faber fought Mike Brown with both of his hands broken and had to throw elbows for like 20 minutes….

  13. Yup SB Nation. We need more UFC/MMA and Box beef episodes. There are some nasty rivalries there, de la Hoya vs Chavez and the entire Brock Lesnar and career come to mind.
    Idea for another Beef episode, just before the NFL season: Al Davis vs Jon Gruden. AL and Chucky were the epitome of the Raider image when the team returned to Oakland and into the new century. Then, somewhere in the middle of the Raiders 2000 season, things went ugly. Should be quite interesting to see the stuff involving these two, going from the AFC Championship game against the Ravens, the 2001 season with the Notre Dame Grumors and the Tuck Rule Game to SB 37, Chucky last game in TB and even today with the 10 year deal.

  14. You can call the beef but I like to call and professional beach where there’s a purpose both to great fighters very few people I think truly understand what’s necessary to be a professional athlete

  15. Does anybody else find Uriah Faber to be one of the most annoying and unlikable UFC fighters of all time?

  16. this should have been better, it misses the whole TJ angle, who was at alpha male when he won the title then left. You could have done a triple way beef! Mixed Molly did a much better version but that was before TJ got popped for a drugs violation going down a division, this could have that in it!

  17. This type of vid needs highlights. I dont think its your fault, im sure if you could show them you would. Big ups for this vid. Shout out that boy Colin Flaherty, doing Gods work.

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