Cruz beats Faber in Bantamweight battle

The UFC Bantamweight championship was successfully defended for the first time on Saturday night, as Dominick Cruz defeated Urijah Faber in a five-round decision victory.

The UFC Bantamweight championship was successfully defended for the first time on Saturday night, as Dominick Cruz defeated Urijah Faber in a five-round decision victory.

In a highly anticipated rematch, Cruz and Faber met in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and put on a flashy exhibition of MMA action. Cruz looked to avenge the only loss of his 18-fight career, which came at the hands of Faber in a first-round submission defeat nearly four years ago. The fight occurred while both fighters were under contract with the WEC, a promotion that is now owned by the UFC. Fast forward to today and this past weekend’s rematch saw two of the fastest and most skilled fighters in the UFC Bantamweight landscape meet.

Although most of the action was too close to call, Cruz seemed to edge out Faber in a majority of the exchanges and used his constant lateral movement to land multi-level strikes all night. Cruz threw more strikes (246 to 181), landed more punches (97 to 58) and landed with more accuracy (39 percent to 32 percent).

“I hit him with a jumping knee, and that rocked him,” Cruz said in the post-fight interview. “He’s tough, man. He’s a veteran, and he did well to recover from it.”

“I knew he was going to come in awkward like that,” Faber said. “I decided to come straight forward. I didn’t feel like I was in danger at any point, but it is what it is.”

The younger Cruz (25-years-old) controlled the pace of the fight and was also able to fend off the takedown attempts of the 32-year-old Faber. Although Faber got in his share of offense, Cruz landed the bigger shots and won unanimously on all three judges scorecards after five rounds. The official scores were 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47 in favor of Cruz. Still, the fight was undeniably close.

“I knew it was going to be a tough fight,” Faber said. “I thought I landed the heavier punches. I had him rocked a couple of times, but congratulations to Dominick; he won. It wasn’t enough of an output on my side, and I didn’t finish him. I felt like I won the fight, but congratulations to Dominick.”

In other action, Portland-native and Ultimate Fighter season-one veteran Chris Leben continued his recent surge, knocking out MMA legend Wanderlei “The Axe-Murderer” Silva just 27 seconds into the first round.

In standard Silva style, Leben was bombarded by a flurry of strikes from his Brazilian opponent right from the opening bell. However, Leben backed up and threw a left-hook that landed behind Silva’s ear, sending him crashing to the canvas. Silva tried to recover, but Leben pounced on his fallen foe quickly, forcing the referee to stop the fight.

“I’m going to tell you where he messed up,” Leben said. “He hit me right on the button. You know what happens when [opponents] hit me there. He cracked me, and I fired back on autopilot. It was a heavy shot right on my nose. I think it might be broken.”

Silva, who turns 35 on Sunday, has lost six of his last eight bouts. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Leben has seen a recent rebirth in his career and has won four out of his last five matches. After the event, Leben was gracious in his victory over a true legend of the sport.

“Wanderlei, I love you. You are my hero,” Leben said. “Thank you for honoring me with that fight.”

The UFC’s next pay-per-view event will take place on Saturday, August 6. The main event on the card is scheduled for a light-heavyweight bout between Rashad Evans and Phil Davis. ?