Urijah Faber has never been one to shy away from talking about his growing rivalry with UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, but he also knows that fight won’t even happen if he doesn’t get past Eddie Wineland at UFC 128 on Saturday night.
The subject of Cruz comes up in virtually every interview Faber does and usually it’s with good reason. Faber and Cruz have a longstanding history and it’s pretty clear they won’t be exchanging birthday cards any time soon.
Unfortunately, Cruz had to have hand surgery following his win over Scott Jorgensen in December. With the champion sidelined for the better part of six months, Faber wasn’t about to wait around for the chance to fight him.
“I definitely didn’t want to sit out. This is what I love to do, I love to fight, and it’s also what I do for a living. I don’t think sitting out that long would do anybody any good,” Faber told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “I’m excited about fighting him in the future, but I’ve just got to get this win out of the way first and Eddie’s a tough dude.”
Beyond the questions about fighting Cruz, come the inquiries about Faber coaching opposite him on the 14th season of The Ultimate Fighter. The UFC recently announced that they would be showcasing featherweights and bantamweights on the show, and Faber and Cruz would seem to be the perfect choices to coach.
“I haven’t heard anything about that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went with someone else, maybe not even in the weight class, because they’ve done that before. I would love to do it,” Faber said about coaching on the show.
If Faber and Cruz are rivals now, imagine where they might be after spending six or seven weeks together on the reality show. The “California Kid” says no problem, however, and if it means getting a shot at Cruz in the Octagon, he’ll gladly put up with him on the show.
“I don’t really know him all that well, but I can put up with anybody,” Faber joked about Cruz. “Hanging out with me, he’s going to realize that I’m just cool and I’m also going to beat him up.”
To get any shot at coaching on TUF 14 or fighting Cruz, Faber’s focus is on his opponent at UFC 128, former WEC bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland.
Faber and Wineland have known each other for years, and Faber even roomed next door to Wineland the weekend he won the WEC bantamweight title before Zuffa purchased the WEC.
When watching Wineland’s recent run of dominant wins, Faber admits he’s seeing a big difference in the fighter’s style and approach. Ultimately, he says, Wineland is enjoying his job again.
“I think what we’re seeing with Eddie is he’s just enjoying fighting more right now,” Faber stated. “You need to enjoy it, you really need to enjoy what you’re doing to do it to your best ability, and you’re looking at two guys who love to fight, and we’re going to find out who’s the man.”
Wineland has been surprising with some of his moves of late as well. From his rib crunching knockout punch to finish Will Campuzano to the head rattling slam he landed on Ken Stone, Wineland has added diversity to his ever-growing attack.
Faber is aware of all of this and that’s why whenever Dominick Cruz or The Ultimate Fighter coaching job come up, he’s wary to look further than March 19.
“We’ll just wait and hear about that,” Faber said about future endeavors. “I’ve got to get this fight out of the way first and let the guys decide who does all that stuff.”
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Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
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