Can Dominick Cruz be successful in the UFC with his polarizing style? Photo by Ryan Malone/SB Nation Arizona
Newly-minted UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz's recent performances have been polarizing to different groups of people.
In his unanimous decision win against Scott Jorgensen on Thursday at WEC 53, Cruz (17-1 overall, 7-1 WEC) mainly stayed on his bicycle, while outclassing the outgunned Jorgensen for 25 minutes. It marked Cruz's second straight five-round decision win and sixth decision win out of seven WEC wins.
Our own Forrest Lynn was particularly incensed by Cruz's performance against Jorgensen on Lights Out Radio on Thursday night.
If you like to see guys jump around and hop across the cage and throw strikes with no intention of finishing anybody, ever… I guess people see him move around all fast and they think he's in great fights? His fights suck. Is anybody entertained by this? How many times more talented do you think Dominick Cruz was than Scott Jorgensen? Ten? Fifteen? Twenty? And what did he do? Nothing. He did nothing with it. He should've got him out of there in a round and a half. That's how big the talent gap was. He's fighting 135-pound fighters. Most of these guys aren't that skilled. Scott Jorgensen, I'm sure he's a nice guy, but he's not anywhere near skilled enough to beat Dominick Cruz. He didn't have the striking, the wrestling, the jiu-jitsu (to compete). And Dominick Cruz jumps around for almost a half-hour and does really nothing.
His style of fighting, to me, is the equivalent of kicking nothing but field goals in a football game. You gotta score some touchdowns every now and then. You gotta put it on your opponent.
Over at the Cagewriter blog at Yahoo! Sports, Steve Cofield feels a bit differently about Cruz than Lynn does. He talks about Tomas Rios saying it will take someone with "real technique" to beat Cruz.
Let's face it, Cruz has faced some pretty good opponents. Joe Benavidez is no slouch and Brian Bowles is an above average MMA striker.
Who has "real technique?" Does that even matter. Until you're in there and Cruz is bouncing all over the place and landing strikes from crazy angles, do you really know if a disciplined striking game will chop him down? Urijah Faber's striking has gotten better, can he do it? Miguel Torres is a good boxer, but he can get a little out of control too.
Now my question is this: Will continually dancing to five-round decision wins in title fights cut it in the UFC in a new division where nobody knows you? I don't think so. Georges St. Pierre can get away with it because he is a known persona. He has shown the ability to finish great fighters in the past. Cruz cannot say the same thing.
To me, Cruz and his title are dead on arrival in the UFC if he's going to keep winning like this. There's a reason Gray Maynard isn't particularly popular with the majority of fans. That style, especially in five round title fights, is not something that's going to win over fans, especially when it can't be categorized as an upset, like Frankie Edgar beating B.J. Penn was.
The UFC needs to take steps to ensure Cruz can be marketed prior to his first UFC fight. The solution to this is to make him a coach on "The Ultimate Fighter" opposite Urijah Faber. There's no doubt Cruz rubs a lot of people the wrong way and him being on the show is a good way to get people to care about him and be invested in him before he fights. Plus, he and Faber have an ongoing issues. Faber seems to genuinely dislike Cruz, which is funny because I've never heard Faber speak of anyone like he speaks about Cruz. Cruz gets under Faber's skin. That is going to make for good television.
The two met for the WEC featherweight title about four years ago and it's Cruz's only career loss. Now, both are at bantamweight and this would make for a very good introduction to the UFC for both Cruz and Faber.
Right now, an unknown Dominick Cruz facing equally unknown fighters and going 25 minutes is not going to endear him to the UFC fan base. The UFC needs to make sure Cruz has the best chance to succeed in the company. To do that, they need to have him coach on "The Ultimate Fighter" against Faber.