December 29, 2016

UFC 207: Talking Pound for Pound? Don't Forget "The Dominator" Dominick Cruz

By Raphael Garcia

UFC President Dana White has been throwing around the term “Pound-for-Pound” in recent interviews, as he’s elevated Conor McGregor to the top of said list. While Mr. McGregor has had quite the 2016, becoming the first fighter to hold gold in two divisions simultaneously, it’s still far from a settled question as to who belongs atop that list. Yes, McGregor should be in the conversation, but Dominick Cruz should not be forgotten about in any mention of the #1 position.

UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz is one of the greatest fighters competing in the sport. At 31 years of age he’s put together a 22-1 record since stepping into the professional space nearly 11 years ago. Since that time he’s faced some of the best athletes in the sport and consistently comes out with his hand raised. In fact, it’s been nearly a decade since his last defeat, when he dropped a fight to Urijah Faber at WEC 26 back in 2007. Since that day he’s not only defeated Faber twice, but he’s run through nearly all that two promotions have had to offer at 135 pounds.

Yes, Cruz’s injury issues should be brought up as a part of this conversation. Cruz was out from 2011 to 2014, came back to defeat Takeya Mizugaki in highlight-reel fashion, then went down for nearly two more years before reclaiming his title at UFC Fight Night 81 in January 2016. In a sport where remaining active goes a long way towards building fame and reminding fans of greatness, Cruz has slipped in this respect.

But it’s still hard to ignore the run that he’s gone on and the career that he’s had thus far. Winning a world title is a tough achievement to reach, but Cruz has gone so far as to defend said title five times (this includes his reign as WEC Bantamweight Champion.) He’s defeated such fighters as Faber, Ian McCall, T.J. Dillashaw, and Joseph Benavidez. Many people believe that Demetrious Johnson is the Pound-for-Pound king, but Cruz is the last man to defeat him, and he did so in dominant fashion back in 2011 at UFC Live on Versus 6. Cruz’s resume can be compared to any fighter, current or in the past, and he would hold his own as one of the greatest.

Apart from his accomplishments in the cage, Cruz has also become an effective trash talker. McGregor says outlandish things that get fight fans excited about his bouts, but Cruz picks his opponents apart with trash talk the same way he does with precision striking and movement.

At UFC 207 Cruz is facing a powerful puncher in Cody Garbrandt, the newest Team Alpha Male member to stand across from him in the cage. No matter the outcome of the fight, his current standing as one of the best mixed martial artists to ever compete will not be jeopardized. However, Cruz is expected to win this fight, and if he can do so in dominant, emphatic fashion, it will be one more discussion point to add to his side of the debate over the top fighter in the world, Pound-for-Pound.

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