At least Dominick Cruz is making the best of it. At least the UFC bantamweight champion is looking at Saturday night’s title fight on the cable TV backwaters of Versus and choosing to look at it as a glass half full. What else can he do, when you think about it?
“What the UFC is doing is they’re putting me on free TV,” Cruz said on MMAFighting.com’s MMA Hour recently. “I can [make it] known to the casual fan the champion [who] I am, go out there and have an outstanding performance on TV and really I get myself out there and represent the 135-pound division to a wider audience for free.”
In theory, sure. That makes sense. In practice, it feels a little bit more like a punt by the UFC, which still isn’t quite sure what to do with its smaller fighters.
The old conventional wisdom used to be that, below the 155-pound mark, Urijah Faber was the one and only proven, promotable commodity. If his name was on the poster, it would move pay-per-views. If it wasn’t, you had a problem.
That explains why Cruz’s last title defense — a decision win over Faber — was good enough to main event UFC 132, while this next one against challenger Demetrious Johnson gets stuck on Versus. The UFC just doesn’t think fans will pay to see Cruz, and maybe it’s right. But whose fault is that, anyway?
In a more just world, Cruz would be a huge draw. His indefatigable style is the perfect antidote to heavyweights who punch themselves into wheezing fits inside of one round. Watching him fight always reminds me of one of those robots in The Jetsons that would occasionally go haywire and do something horrible to poor, long-suffering George. He flies around the cage, a blur of appendages and takedowns, and it never seems like even he knows what he’s going to do next. It’s so fun to watch, I almost don’t care that he never seems to finish fights.