The current king of the bantamweight division is quickly becoming one of the sport's big stars, due both to his great work as an analyst, and his consistent delivery of entertaining fights.
Recurring injuries forced him to vacate his title in 2011, and aside from just one brief return in 2014, he didn't make a true comeback until January of this year. Layoff or not though, he came back in force, quickly taking back the gold from T.J. Dillashaw.
He then defended the 135 pound title at UFC 199 against long time rival, Urijah Faber. That match was not only exciting, but it perfectly illustrated his trademark fighting style.
After seeing that methodical deconstruction of Faber, the big question on everyone's minds was, just how exactly does the bantamweight champion remain so dominant?
In a Dominick Cruz fight you will always see him fighting with his hands down. When punches come his way, his head movement and footwork ensure that the shots don't land. He slips and rolls, dodging blows as if he is in The Matrix.
A certain legend in MMA, Anderson Silva, often utilises this style. The most significant instance of this style working wonders for "The Spider" was against Forest Griffin. Silva's head movement and footwork set up a highlight reel KO.
He coaxed Griffin into throwing wild shots. The more Anderson makes Forrest miss, the harder he tries to land. This makes Griffin sacrifice his strong fighting stance and centre of gravity. Silva stepped back, avoided the barrage of punches, planted his feet, and clipped Griffin with a shot that sent him sprawling.
With that being said, "The Dominator" keeps this style up for an entire 5 round bout. Anderson Silva on the other hand usually begins to do this once he starts to feel comfortable.
When using such a style, it could be easy to put yourself constantly on the back foot, focusing all of your efforts on defence and not being aggressive enough. Cruz does not fall into that trap.
The bantamweight champion constantly applies pressure, using his loose method of movement as momentum to make his shots even more effective. When he hits, he hits hard. This is similar footwork to a boxer that was famous for making his opponents miss, before coming back with devastating combos: Roy Jones Jr.
Watch an example of this in action below:
Cruz's constant switching of stances and rapid footwork is perfect for the 135 pound division.
Larger fighters with more muscle mass would not be able to maintain that kind of work rate. With Cody Garbrandt thought to be the next title challenger; as well as talk of superfights in higher weight classes, exciting things are in store for Dominick Cruz.
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