MMA Today: Faber has shot at redemption vs. Cruz

Jul 1 2011 - 4:23pm

For Urijah Faber, Saturday night's main event bout against Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz represents a chance to restore the shine to his once glowing career.

For Cruz, the fight allows him to redeem his lone professional loss and establish himself as the top bantamweight in the world.

Despite the different motivations, both fighters want to lay claim to the same prize at UFC 132 -- a victory in the promotion's first bantamweight championship match. The event, which will be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, will air live on pay-per-view at 9 p.m. EST.

"I've been given the opportunity to represent 135-pound weight class for the first title fight and the first main event in the 135-pound history in the UFC," said Cruz, who was named UFC champion when UFC absorbed sister company World Extreme Cagefighting last December. "So it's an honor. It's definitely something that I'm excited for."

Faber, 25-4, made his WEC debut in 2006 and won his first six fights. Three of his losses, however, came in his next five appearances. All three were championship bouts.

Following the streak, Faber dropped to his more natural bantamweight division, where he reeled off consecutive victories against Takeya Mizugaki and Eddie Wineland.

"I'm here in a new weight class, and there's a great story behind this one," said Faber, a 32-year-old native of Isla Vista, California. "And bottom line is I'm the best 135-pound in the world, and it's my turn to prove it."

Cruz, who was submitted via a guillotine choke in the first round of his 2007 fight against Faber, dropped to bantamweight in June of 2008. After he won his first four fights, Cruz - a 25-year-old native of Tucson, Arizona - defeated Brian Bowles in March of 2010 to win the WEC bantamweight title.

After two successful title defenses and with more than four years additional experience, Cruz (17-1) believes he is ready to even his record against Faber.

"You can look at my past fights and see a difference in every fight since I fought him," Cruz said. "So, kicks, ground game, wresting, you know, my body has changed, you name it. It's been four years. Everything is different in this fight, and he's fighting a completely different person."

The rest of the pay-per-view card includes: middleweights Wanderlei Silva vs. Chris Leben; light heavyweights Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader; welterweights Carlos Condit vs. Dong Hyun Kim; and lightweights Dennis Siver vs. Matt Wiman.

The preliminaries, which will air on, include: middleweights Brad Tavares vs. Aaron Simpson; lightweights Anthony Njokuani vs. Andre Winner; and bantamweights Brian Bowles vs. Takeya Mizugaki and Jeff Hougland vs. Donny Walker. Lightweights Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller and George Sotiropoulos vs. Rafael dos Anjos will fight in preliminaries on Spike TV at 8 p.m. EST.

-- Last weekend's UFC Live on Versus 4 card was supposed to feature a main event between two fighters -- Nate Marquardt and Rick Story -- possibly in line to challenge the winner of October's welterweight championship bout between Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz.

Instead, the plans went for naught.

Marquardt, who dropped from middleweight to welterweight, did not receive clearance from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission on Saturday, the day before the fight. He was subsequently pulled from the card and released from his contract.

Marquardt, a three-time King of Pancrasse middleweight champion, has been under medical supervision regarding a testosterone imbalance. The medication, combined with the weight cut, caused his levels to spike in the tests leading up to the fight.

"I believe the weight cut screwed up my number," Marquardt said to The MMA Hour. "I asked the doctor, 'Can my concentration be higher because I'm dehydrated?' The doctor said, 'Yes, because your blood is thicker.' I took a test the day after weigh-ins and I was well within the acceptable range."

Story was dropped to the co-main event against Charlie Brenneman, whose scheduled fight against T.J. Grant was called off. Brenneman, 14-2, pulled off the upset to end Story's six-fight win streak.

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