After five rounds of hitting and then disappearing at the first hint of a counter, Cruz (22-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) was rewarded with a unanimous decision victory of his rival Faber (33-9 MMA, 9-5 UFC), with judges turning in scores of 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46.
In many ways, it was a classic Cruz fight, with one possible exception: This time the champion brought the power as well as the speed and elusiveness. After a first round filled with frantic scrambles, Cruz tagged Faber with a left hand that floored him in the second, only to go rushing into an upkick when he tried to follow up.
Cruz would batter Faber in several more exchanges, hurting him in ways he hadn’t come close to in their last meeting, when he was forced to settle for a win that felt secure without being dominant.
In the fourth, Cruz put Faber down again and pounced with short right hands, thumping them against the side of Faber’s skull as he rose to his feet just in time for a Cruz kick to bounce off the top of his head. In the fifth, a desperate Faber tried to turn up the pressure, only to find himself repeatedly tagged with counter hooks after his own punches hit nothing but air.
It was an almost impeccable performance by Cruz, and one even his longtime nemesis Faber was forced to pay homage to in his post-fight remarks. If not for one judge who scored a single round for Faber, it would have been a perfect shutout across all three scorecards, which tells the tale of this fight as much as the bright red bruises dotting Faber’s face by the end.
With the win, Cruz retains his UFC bantamweight title, and remains undefeated since joining the UFC after the WEC merger in 2010. Faber has now lost all four of his UFC title shots.