There are seven UFC world champions:
Cain Velazquez at heavyweight, Jon Jones at light heavyweight, Anderson Silva at middleweight, Georges St-Pierre at welterweight, Frankie Edgar at lightweight, Jose Aldo at featherweight and then me — Dominick Cruz — at the 135-pound bantamweight class.
If I am totally honest, I’m probably the least well-known of the seven champions right now.
Part of that is because my fight on July 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is actually the first bantamweight title fight in UFC history. I was the champion of the WEC league, which was absorbed into the UFC recently, and my WEC title became the UFC title. So there’s pressure on me the show UFC fans what the 135-pound division is all about.
But there are other reasons I’m not as well-known as some of the other UFC title-holders… I feel I’ve been under-promoted on the PR side of things.
Now, don’t get me wrong, a big part of that is my fault. I used to be one of those fighters who thought that all being a fighter — or a champion — involved was training hard and winning in the cage. I didn’t appreciate that I wasn’t just a champion for the 25 minutes or less I was actually defending my belt, but that being a world champion is a 24-7 job and involved a lot of time and effort outside of the gym.
I didn’t understand that fans were interested in talking to you on social media and reading about you in interviews; maybe I was naive but I figure they just wanted to see you fight, say thanks for the support, and leave so they could watch the next fight.
I get it now. I’m on Facebook and Twitter and I’m really glad I am. There are some great fans out there and social media and things like this blog are really cool, the way you get to talk directly to fans and let them know what you are up to. I’m trying to play catch-up on marketing myself but, ultimately, I still want fans to judge me on my performances in the Octagon.
When my career is over I want fans to remember me as the guy who made it from the bottom to the top off nothing but pure hard work, heart and focus.
On July 2, I have the chance to really make people sit up and take notice. I’m main eventing UFC 132, a huge PPV with legends like Wanderlei Silva and Tito Ortiz on the card, in the biggest bantamweight fight in the sport’s history.
The fight is not only the biggest in terms of being the first bantamweight title fight in UFC history, but also the most important fight of my life because of who I am fighting. Uriah Faber, my challenger, is the only guy to beat me in my 18-fight career. He beat me when I challenged him back when he was WEC featherweight champ.
Just like I feel I have been under-promoted, Faber has been over-promoted. He was the darling, the actual poster boy, of the WEC. But just like it was partly my fault I wasn’t pushed that hard, Faber is a master of self-promotion and he worked hard at marketing himself.
He was all over Twitter and Facebook long, long before the UFC starting pushing fighters to embrace social media. Great for him; he got it before I did and that’s my fault.
What does piss me off — even to this day — is just how much Faber was the favourite in the WEC. When I fought Faber for the featherweight title four years ago, I wasn’t even on the poster. To me, that’s just plain disrespectful.
Fighting for a world title is something even very good fighters never get the chance to do, it is something your entire family, your friends and your gym are proud of. For the entire poster to be of Urijah — as if he was fighting himself or something — was just completely disrespectful but it tells you all you need to know about how he was the golden boy, the “face of the WEC.”
When I was asked to autograph the poster, I did it all over his face. It was my own way of making the poster. Faber didn’t like it and people still talk about it to this day. But even if all this hadn’t have happened, I’d still dislike Urijah Faber.
In life, you just come across people you just don’t like. You’ve probably got someone at your work or a friend of a friend who you just can’t get along with for some reason. Faber and I are like that.
Uriah Faber can be remembered as the “face of the WEC.” That’s fine, that’s cool. But what he won’t be remembered for is being the UFC bantamweight champion.
Faber has wanted to be a UFC champion literally since he was a kid. It’s going to be a great night — making history in the UFC and avenging my only loss against someone I’ve no time for all in one fight.
Article by: SportsNet.ca