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Dominick Cruz wins grudge match as Urijah Faber says he'll consider retiring

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Dominick Cruz finally has the last word in his longstanding rivalry with Urijah Faber.

The UFC bantamweight champ used his trademark stick-and-move style to largely elude Faber and landed a variety of significant strikes to win a unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45 and 49-46) at UFC 199 at The Forum.

The third meeting between the two bitter rivals didn't disappoint as they went at each other early and often. But Cruz just proved to be too quick for Faber, darting in and out with his awkward style to land a multitude of kicks and punches and avoiding the majority of Faber's counters.

Still, Faber persevered and continued throwing haymakers while eating punches. He seemingly earned his rival's respect with the performance despite the loss, as the two shared a reluctant hug at the conclusion of the fight.

"I’m not surprised [with Faber's toughness]," Cruz said. "He’s been a champion before and he’s tough. Everyone in this Octagon is tough."

It was the first defense of the title Cruz won in January against T.J. Dillashaw in a split decision, after persevering through a litany of injuries.

"Ring rust is not real. Anyone who fights, don’t listen to them, it’s all in your head. It feels so good to be able to compete again.”

Despite what had to be a bitter pill to swallow, Faber was gracious in defeat, giving props to Cruz for his dominant performance. Clearly disappointed, Faber said he'll spend some time away from the Octagon and contemplate whether he'll continue fighting.

“First off, props to Cruz for an amazing fight," Faber said. "He’s a heavy hitter, not as heavy as my boy Cody [Garbrandt], but he’s a heavy hitter. The game plan was to keep the pressure. This has been a terrific journey for me, 13 years. I can’t really say I’m going to end this journey yet, but I’m going to enjoy my time off and figure out what to do then. Keep an eye out for my guys. Right now I’m going to relax and put some ice on it.”

Faber was aggressive in the first round, staying on top of Cruz and keeping him on his heels, but the champion landed a huge left hand early in the second that changed the dynamic of the fight completely.

Cruz never got reckless despite putting Faber on his back. But after Faber was able to scramble and get up, Cruz picked up the pressure and landed vicious leg kicks and punches that had Faber reeling.

Cruz clearly wanted to finish Faber late in the fight but was unable to do so and instead had to settle on a decision win.

Unfortunately for Faber, this is just the latest in a series of title-fight losses extending back to WEC 36 on Nov. 5, 2008. The popular Californian has dropped his last seven title fights – to Cruz (twice), Renan Barao (twice), Mike Brown (twice) and Jose Aldo – and is likely out of opportunities at 37 years old.

Conversely, Cruz has now won 13 consecutive fights since losing to Faber in the first round of a 2007 WEC featherweight title fight.

The oft-injured star had been sidelined for the better part of four years with a plethora of knee issues, but he's back with a vengeance now.

After Faber won their initial meeting via first-round submission, Cruz and Faber met for a second time at UFC 132 on July 2, 2011, a fight Cruz won by unanimous decision. But it was far from a decisive win; many actually thought Faber deserved the nod.

The trilogy fight Saturday was definitive though, and left no question about who owns bragging rights in the rivalry.


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