UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw vs. Cruz Prediction

Years ago, Renan Barão and Dominick Cruz were expected to face each other to unify the UFC Bantamweight Championship. Unfortunately, Cruz suffered an injury and Barão faced Uriah Faber, instead. Barão was promoted by Dana White as the undisputed UFC Bantamweight Champion. Cruz did not lose his championship belt, not really.

Cruz never got his chance to defeat Barão and in his absence, Barão became the new king of the division. Barão slowly gained an air of invincibility, but a man named T.J. Dillashaw, in a complete shocker, dethroned the Brazilian to become the new champion. Dillashaw then defended the title against Joe Soto and to prove the first fight was not a fluke, beat Barão in a more domineering fashion in the second.

The old king of the division, Dominick Cruz, was able to make his return in an utterly dominant fashion against Takeya Mizugaki, a worthy opponent. Dana subsequently gave him the title shot, but Cruz suffered another injury. Again, the true unifying title fight was postponed and rescheduled, this time for early 2016 on January 17th. Hopefully, we can finally see who the “real” king of the UFC Bantamweight division is.

The Analysis

I had trouble reaching a conclusion on this fight. Neither Dillashaw or Cruz have glaring holes in their game. Both are fast-paced dynamic cardio freaks that are capable of taking anyone out. Admittedly, I’m somewhat skeptical of Dillashaw, though. He hasn’t faced the same level of competition as Cruz and he’s not as truly seasoned. I’m of the belief that Dillashaw had Barão’s number but won’t have the number of a less stationary, more dynamic fighter such as Cruz.

Do not underestimate the power of the UFC hype machine and mixed martial arts community. Dillashaw has Barão’s number, but is he really the new king of the division? I’m skeptical.

UFC Rankings

Those red dots are the wins of Cruz, the orange his one and only loss. The dark blue dots are the wins of Dillashaw, the lighter blue dots his two losses. It’s obvious that Cruz has faced greater fighters and I’m confident this will be a huge factor in this fight. I am sure Cruz, being the more seasoned fighter and having faced the greatest competition, can, at least, handle Dillashaw, but can Dillashaw handle Cruz? That’s the question.

I’m of the belief that Cruz will be too elusive. He doesn’t get hit often. He isn’t taken down often, either. Dillashaw doesn’t get taken down either, but he gets hit and that’s evident from his eye-opening fight with Joe Soto. Soto was able to land plenty when he was staying busy, only being pieced up while standing stationary. Cruz will not be a stationary target and that’s precisely why he can be just as successful as Soto was, except more so. However, on the flip side, the “Dominator” can definitely handle a dynamic fast-paced fighter. After all, Cruz beat Demetrious Johnson, the current #1 pound-for-pound fighter, who came at him with a relentless pace.

There should be a lot of back and forth exchanges between them, in which I see Cruz landing the more precise shots more frequently than Dillashaw. I see that being the deciding factor in a unanimous decision win for Cruz. I am not ruling out the potential for a technical knockout. Either could land a big shot and drop the other, but I feel that if one knocks out the other, it will be a technical knockout due to a multitude of strikes and not necessarily because the other fighter is truly unconscious. Either could do that, so it’s really a matter of who catches who, but because Cruz has proven elusive on many occasions while the likes of Soto has caught Dillashaw with plenty of clean shots, I’m backing Cruz.

There are a lot of abnormal factors to account for such as the awkward split between Dillashaw and Team Alpha Male or the absence of Cruz. How can we say for sure that these things will be a differentiating factor? It’s too hard to say. Despite Cruz having formerly returned in dominant fashion, the fight was over fast, so we can’t truly say there’s no potential for ring rust. Was the Team Alpha Male separation a good or bad thing? Who knows. As someone who’s studied psychology, I only feel comfortable stating that Cruz appears to have a psychological advantage over Dillashaw.

I believe the originator will be the dominator if you catch my drift. I see Cruz slowly picking Dillashaw apart, landing more frequently and accurately. I’m not saying it won’t be a fight, on the contrary. It won’t be easy for Cruz, but I believe he’ll pull through with the split or unanimous decision unless he gets robbed by the judges like Carlos Condit was.