UFC On Versus comes to Verizon Center on Friday, Oct. 1, featuring a 10-fight card highlighted by bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz taking on challenger Demetrious Johnson. Thursday afternoon, the combatants met the media at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum, and MMA Nation was there.
Cruz, nicknamed "The Dominator," certainly sounds confident about his chances of retaining his title. He's not "defending" it, though, not according to him. "I'm not going out there to defend anything," he said. "I'm going out there to win a title." Later, he called fighters who challenge him "maniacs."
Johnson tried to stay humble, calling Cruz "a great champion," but did say he plans to "bring the fire" when he fights Cruz. Given his height--listed at 5-foot-3--Johnson is used to being the underdog. "Story of my life," he said.
Despite the caliber of the main event's combatants, UFC On Versus 6 has received little attention from fans. "Interest is tepid. Fans are flat. The buzz is bunk," writes Thomas Meyers of MMA Nation, who places the blame for the lack of interest squarely on Cruz, or more specifically his style. Cruz is "not a finisher," Meyers says:
[Cruz] hasn't scored a true (technical) knockout or submission victory since he entered the Zuffa fray in 2007. Nine fights with seven decisions, one technical knockout win (because of injury) and one submission loss.
For Cruz, the bantamweight title isn't the only thing at stake in Friday's fight; indeed, his reputation is as well, as he has a chance to shed the efficient-yet-dull label he's carried for the last year-plus.
The fights begin at 9 p.m. Friday, leading up to the big match between Cruz and Johnson.