Cruz feels at home as part of UFC stable

Dominick Cruz is still months away from making his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut, but the 25-year-old is already feeling comfortable in his role as the organization’s bantamweight champion.

Cruz became the UFC champion by defending his World Extreme Cagefighting belt with a decision over Scott Jorgensen on Dec. 16, in the organization’s final card before merging with the UFC.

He won the fight despite an injured left hand that required surgery in January. He will not be able to defend the UFC title for the first time until at least the summer, but he already feels very much a part of the organization.

“I love the UFC and what it has done for me, and I feel like I was already fighting the best opponents in the world in my division, hands down. I’ve been in the UFC as far as I’m concerned,” said Cruz, who was in Las Vegas to promote the UFC’s new line of performance apparel.

“What changes for me is the media and the quality guys that I get to be on the roster with, and it just gives me a little bit more notoriety.”

It will also give him more room to operate. The UFC cage is larger than the one used in the WEC, and Cruz, known for his nonstop movement and stellar endurance, said he thinks it will be an edge.

“I think it’s absolutely going to benefit me fighting in the bigger cage. I feel like I’ve been doing everything I can to fill all the holes in my game to make sure I’m hard to deal with,” he said. “The bigger cage just makes it even harder to take me down and get a hold of me, so I’m excited for it.”

It will be awhile until he can put the theory to the test. Cruz probably won’t throw punches with the left hand for a couple of months.

“I’m working out, but I’m not using my left hand, so I’m sparring one-handed and working on my movement and still just trying to do what I can with what I have,” he said. “I’m still getting the work that I crave, but I just have to be careful.”

Cruz will probably return against the winner of a March clash between former champions Urijah Faber and Eddie Wineland. He said either fighter would be a challenge, but he has some unfinished business with Faber, who handed Cruz the only loss of his career in 2007.

“I’ve wanted to fight him since I lost,” Cruz said. “Everybody dreams for a chance to get a rematch against someone they’ve lost to. That’s the first thing you think about when you get beat, it’s just part of being a fighter.

“But at the same time, I want to fight the best guys in the world, and Wineland has a real good chance of going in there and beating Urijah, so we’ll see what happens.

■ ORTIZ OUT — Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz suffered a bad cut over his eyebrow after taking a head-butt during a training session and has pulled out of a scheduled main event bout against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC Fight Night 24 in Seattle on March 26.

Ortiz posted on Twitter that the cut required 22 stitches.

Unbeaten prospect Phil Davis, a former NCAA wrestling champion, was tabbed to fill in for Ortiz, who is 0-4-1 in his last five fights and has not won a bout since 2006.

■ UFC 127 — Jon Fitch will meet BJ Penn in the main event of UFC 127, which will air live from Sydney, Australia, on pay per view at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The winner of the Penn-Fitch bout will be the top contender in the welterweight division, according to UFC president Dana White, though the title picture could be a bit cloudy with the potential of Georges St. Pierre abandoning the belt for a move to middleweight with a win over Jake Shields in April.

Also on Saturday’s card, Michael Bisping will meet Jorge Rivera in a middleweight bout and lightweights George Sotiropoulos and Dennis Siver square off.

■ LESNAR BOOK — Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar announced last year he was working on his autobiography.

The book now has an official title and release date.

“Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival,” will be available May 24.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

Covering The Cage Videos
Greg Hardy, former NFL star, on MMA knockout
The former NFL star needed just 17 seconds to score a knockout on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series (Adam Hill/Review-Journal)
Marlon Moraes says Henry Cejudo will regret stepping up to bantamweight - VIDEO
UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo is coming up to the bantamweight division to battle Marlon Moraes for the vacant belt on June 8 at UFC 238. Moraes said Cejudo will regret going after a second title in a new division and added that he thinks his path will cross with former champion TJ Dillashaw in the future.
Paige VanZant details her arm injury, when she can return - VIDEO
UFC strawweight Paige VanZant was briefly linked to fight at UFC 236, but had to withdraw from the bout due to a broken arm. As a guest on the RJ Ringside Podcast, she detailed the injury and also spoke about joining the M-1 Global booth as a color commentator.
UFC 236 Press Conference Highlights
UFC 236 will feature a pair of interim title fights. In the main event, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will face lightweight contender Dustin Poirier and middleweights Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum will collide in the co-main event. UFC 236 will take place in Atlanta, Ga., on Apr. 13.
Jon Jones retains light heavyweight belt at UFC 235 - VIDEO
Jon Jones retained the UFC light heavyweight belt when he earned a decision over Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235.
Kamaru Usman crowned new champ at UFC 235 — VIDEO
Kamaru Usman became the first African-born fighter to claim a UFC belt when he defeated Tyron Woodley to become the promotion's new welterweight champion.
UFC 235 Official Weigh-in Results - VIDEO
All 24 fighters competing at UFC 235 at the T-Mobile Arena on March 2 stepped on the scale prior for the official fight card weigh-ins. All four fighters competing in the title bouts slated for the event made weight.
UFC's Jones says he has no shame after recent drug test results are released - VIDEO
Though recent drug test results still show trace amounts of Turinabol in his system, UFC light heayvweight champion Jon Jones says he has no shame and is hiding nothing as he prepares for his UFC 235 title bout against Anthony Smith.
Anthony Smith stays level-headed prior to UFC 235 title fight - VIDEO
Despite UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones being in the spotlight for drug test discrepancies and other outside the cage struggles, Anthony Smith says he is tuning out the noise and remaining focused on the challenge of beating the reigning champion in the cage.
UFC 235 Media Day Highlights
Highlights and staredowns from the top three fights on the UFC 235 fight card taking place at the T-Mobile Arena on March 2.
UFC 235 press conference highlights
UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman have a heated exchange and Ben Askren enjoys his time on the stage by interacting with UFC president Dana White.
UFC president Dana White talks UFC 235 and more
UFC president Dana White joined Heidi Fang and Adam Hill to discuss the UFC 235 card set for Las Vegas on Mar. 2 at the T-Mobile Arena and also spoke on Colby Covington and Khabib Nurmagomedov's and Conor McGregor's disciplinary measures given by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Full version available on Facebook at Review-Journal Sports
Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman Have Heated Exchange At UFC 235 Presser - VIDEO
UFC 235 opened with Jon Jones returning after his meeting at the Nevada Athletic commission, Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman arguing on stage and Ben Askren making his UFC debut.
NAC Chairman says it's time to tone down MMA smack talk ahead of fights
After announcing the fines and suspensions given to Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov for their involvement in a melee at UFC 229 in Las Vegas, Nevada Athletic Commission Chairman Anthony Marnell said it may be time to address "mouthy fighters" smack talk and conduct leading up to a fight.
Jones, NAC Chairman issue statements following Jones' licensing approval for UFC 235
The Nevada Athletic Commission issued UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones a conditional one-fight license to compete at UFC 235 taking place at the T-Mobile Arena on Mar. 2. Jones had to reapply for a license in Nevada after failing a drug test which led to UFC 232 being moved from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, California.
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing