The Sports Informant

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Cruz, Faber go back and forth in July 2 battle

The July 2 fight between UFC Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and challenger Urijah Faber was a back-and-forth battle that saw Cruz defend his title in a unanimous decision. The fight may have been a lot closer than it seems on paper, though.

Breakdown of each round is below.

Round 1 – The round goes mainly to Faber. Cruz’s in-and-out style was expected and Faber scored several times when Cruz tried to attack, once getting a knockdown in the round. Two of Faber’s takedowns were stuffed, but he seemed to engage with ease and avoid Cruz’s speed. The game plan was working for Faber. Cruz did sneak in an uppercut timed perfectly and a straight right to Faber’s face, but it was all he got.

Sports Informant: Faber wins Round 1

Round 2 – Cruz wins the round because he pushed the action. Faber was on the defensive all round, waiting for a moment to attack. That moment came with about a minute left in the round, and Faber actually knocked Cruz down with a flurry, but couldn’t capitalize as Cruz bounced back up and 30 seconds later scored a takedown of Faber, then scored a left and right combo to Faber’s face at the end of the round.

Sports Informant: Cruz wins Round 2

Round 3 – Two minutes in Cruz lands a solid combination, slipping a left hook past Faber’s defenses before landing a straight right. Just under three minutes in, Faber gets his first takedown of the fight, trying to take Cruz’s back. Seconds later, Cruz reverses the position and gets Faber in side control from the top. Faber escapes. Faber can’t land anything the rest of the round while Cruz lands several punches that do no damage. Round goes to Cruz.

Sports Informant: Cruz wins Round 3

Round 4 – Cruz lands back-to-back right hooks 30 seconds into the round and keeps Faber backpedalling for a few seconds. A minute in, Faber lands a solid right hook which floors Cruz, but upon attacking, Cruz dives forward for a takedown on Faber, negating Faber’s momentum. Cruz lands a right followed by a left kick to the body with 2:26 left in the round. Faber stuffs a solid takedown attempt by Cruz, twice going to his knee before swinging his way out of the hold. In the final minute, Faber lands several punches on his way out of attacks. Cruz lands a knee to Faber’s face. Cruz goes for a takedown at the end of the round, but Faber escapes without going down. The round is pretty even, but should go to Faber for the knockdown, since effectiveness of strikes were about even between the two otherwise.

Sports Informant: Faber wins Round 4

Round 5 – Cruz lands a flying knee in the first 15 seconds, which eventually staggers Faber against the cage. Cruz attacks furiously, but Faber lands a right hook and escapes. Cruz lands a takedown a minute into the round, and Faber eventually escapes up the side of the cage. Later, Faber lands a right knee to the body, Cruz tries to take Faber down, but Faber reverses the takedown and ends up with a standing guillotine choke. Cruz escapes. Cruz lands another takedown later, but Faber escapes without damage. Cruz gets another takedown, and Faber escapes again. Cruz gets a third takedown, Faber gets up, and Cruz takes him down again. It’s another close round, going to Cruz for the takedowns.

Sports Informant: Cruz wins Round 5

The actual judges’ decision: 50-45, 49-46, 48-47. Cruz officially wins by Unanimous Decision. My scorecard had Cruz winning 48-47.

The fight may have avenged Cruz’s loss to Faber 10 years ago, but what it did more so was leave more questions needing answers.

“This is a fight where we need expert judges; there’s so much going on in this fight,” said announcer Joe Rogan. “I don’t care who wins this fight, I wanna see it again. These guys are so closely matched.”

After the fight, Cruz was happy with the win, of course, but seemed surprised by Faber’s performance.

“The dude hits hard, his hands were very fast,” Cruz said of Faber. “They were prepared.”

Faber was disappointed in the decision.

“I knew it was gonna be a tough fight,” Faber said. “I thought I landed the heavier punches. I had him rocked a couple of times. But congratulations to Dominick. He won. It wasn’t enough of an output on my side to make it a decision (for me). I didn’t finish him.”

“I felt like it could have gone either way,” Faber added. “I felt like I won the fight, but again, you can’t really judge when it comes to that.”

Is a rematch looming? It should be. It is, after all, the rubber match.

“That’d be great,” Faber said. “Let’s do it.”

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