Dominick Cruz is perhaps one of the most dominant champions on the UFC roster. He recently defeated Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Versus 6 in Washington, D.C. in the third highest rated show in the series history. Cruz, who has now defended his belt four time, has finally brought stability and legitimacy to the bantamweight division. Now a UFC fight, he is finally reaping the benefits of his hard work and dedication.
MMA Nation caught up with the Dominator at the UFC 136 Fan Expo in Houston, Texas last weekend to talk about his career and what it means that Dana White considers him one of the toughest fighters on the active roster.
After the UFC 136 pre-fight presser, Dana White was asked about Dominick Cruz and why he didn't bring up his broken hand even after the fight. Dana commended the champion saying he's one of the toughest fighters he knows. When Cruz was made aware of White's comments, he was elated saying, "I appreciate it. I appreciate the fact that he sees things the way we do. It means he things the way a fighter sees things. It's good that somebody like Dana who has all these things to worry about, I can't even image where his head's at, and to take the time and think about the fact that I had to go into this fight with my hand hurt from round one to round five, and fight through it."
"I appreciate the fact that he recognizes it is really all I can say. i didn't want to say anything about my hand because I don't want to sound like I'm trying to make excuses or say look I did that with this problem. Who cares, it's why I didn't say anything. It didn't really matter. Demetrious fought an awesome fight. WE had an awesome fight. It didn't really play a difference in the fight and do what I needed to do. It hurt but if you're fighting for a title, you have to be willing to die out there."
This differentiates Cruz from many UFC fighters would will make an excuse no matter the outcome, telling fans they came into the fight injured. When asked what made him different from his peers, Cruz was extremely honest, "I think it has to do with, I said it in a lot of interviews. One, nobody cares if you're hurt. If you get hurt and you lose, everybody thinks you're making excuses. On top of that, growing up in sports, you have a swollen ankle, you have to sit and think. Do I want to wrestle or do I want to think about my swollen ankle and sit out? I'd rather wrestle than worry about a swollen ankle, I'll deal with a swollen ankle."
"Do I want to fight for a world title and prove that I'm one of the best on the planet pound for pound one day? Or do I want to sit out and take one off and rest my hand? So many fighters go into fights hurt, it's part of the sport. What separates the best in the world from the guys who are trying to make it is how you handle the mental battle in the fight. It's not easy. It messes with your brain. You can either accept it and say I'm out or you can try and deal with it. It always depends on the severity of the injury obviously, but this was enough that I was able to tough it out and make it through the fight."
For Cruz, this is the second time that he has suffered a broken hand. Before the UFC announced the fighter insurance, he would often have to use his own savings to handle the injury. For many fighters this is a scary thought as they need to worry about bills during the time away from the cage. Cruz was smiling from ear to ear when asked how he felt about the Fighter Insurance policy the UFC just put into place this past year. He told me, "Are you kidding? Think about it, I haven't had health insurance for my entire career up until now. It's such a relief. You don't even know. I was having to spend my win money to fix myself sometimes. It just sucked. It's so much easier. I don't have to pull the money out of my piggybank to fix my injuries."
The champion knows there is a challenger on the horizon as the victor of Brian Bowles and Urijah Faber has all but been guaranteed a title shot. Dominick broke down the match up and how he views defending his belt against either fighter for a second time. "I wouldn't say there's a preference. I want to fight the number one contender and that will prove it. I want to fight the best guys in the world. If Faber beats Bowles, he's the best. If Bowles beats Faber, awesome. Either one, I'm fighting for the second time. I think Faber has the advantage in that fight though. I think he can take Bowles down easier than Bowles can do so to him, therefore he dictates where the fight is gonna be. And Faber is good enough on the feet that he won't get slept in the first round. He can grind the fight out and take Bowles down and beat him up from the top position."