A feud that began more than four years ago with a seemingly childish squabble over the placement of a signature on a poster will be settled Saturday like so many other playgroundlike disagreements.
Only instead of meeting by the swing set at 3 o'clock, Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz will step into an Ultimate Fighting Championship cage in the main event of UFC 132 at the MGM Grand with Cruz's bantamweight title on the line.
Cruz says all the negative emotions he has expressed toward Faber over the years will be harnessed into the fight and then the beef will be squashed.
"I feel like fighting fixes everything, bottom line," Cruz said. "Once we punch each other in the face, fighting fixes everything."
Not surprisingly, Faber was ready with a retort.
"That's just the opposite of what my Mom used to say, but we'll see," he said.
A similar sarcastic comment by Faber, coupled with the poster issue is what apparently led to the problems between the two fighters in the first place.
When they first met in 2007, Faber was the World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion and was quickly becoming the breakout star of the organization. Cruz was a little-known 21-year-old making his WEC debut.
His face wasn't even on the promotional poster, despite the fact he was challenging for a belt.
When it came time for him to sign a stack of posters for the WEC, he decided to place his signature right over the face of Faber, which irked the champion.
Faber dispatched of Cruz in less than two minutes, still the only loss of his career, then told Cruz, "Good fight."
The sarcasm wasn't lost on Cruz, who has harbored negative feelings toward Faber ever since, even while his career took off.
"He's a phony. I know the real guy, not the one he is when there are cameras around," Cruz said. "Faber has been over-promoted and handed chances. He was the face of the WEC, but he'll never be UFC bantamweight champion as long as I've got the belt."
Faber has taken his fair share of subtle shots at Cruz, but he says the intense rivalry is basically a one-way feeling.
"I didn't even think about him at all,'' Faber said. "He was thinking about me a lot. It's almost kind of weird, but what are you going to do?"
Despite the perceived distraction, Cruz has gone on to great success since that first meeting. He dropped to bantamweight, won the WEC belt in his fifth fight at 135 pounds and successfully defended it twice, including on the final WEC card before the organization was folded into the UFC.
It's fitting Cruz's first UFC fight will come against his longtime nemesis, who said Cruz is simply jealous of the success and fame Faber has achieved.
"I think even though he dislikes me, I think there's some admiration there that he's not letting on about and that irks him also," he said.
Faber says the animosity has made it easy to prepare for the fight.
"I've never really been an emotional fighter, but that's because I usually feel kind of indifferent or kind of like the guy I'm fighting," he said. "But, in a real situation if I were to fight, the only reason I'd fight is if I don't like somebody, so I think it makes it easier."
As for Cruz's contention the fight could end the tension, Faber isn't entirely convinced.
"I'm sure we'll shake hands and (move) on. I think that beating the crap out of each other is pretty good therapy," he said. "But for the record, the last time we fought, we didn't become friends afterward, and that's because, like I said, Dominick was pissed he lost so quickly.
"I think if we ever can be cordial, there's a lot I can teach him, and I think he knows that."
Cruz likely isn't headed to Faber's class anytime soon.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509.