Dominick Cruz -- the king of the Bantamweight division -- has come a long way. His self-belief always unshakable, the young champion finally seems ready to take his place among the greats of the sport. Fresh off a title defense against the celebrated Joseph Benavidez, Cruz bristles at the possibility of his next high-motor opponent wearing him out.
"Who matches his pace? Dominick Cruz matches his pace. And I'm going to keep doing that. Nobody is ever going to outpace me. Nobody is ever going to get me tired; because that's the one thing I can control -- in 5 rounds, 3 rounds, or any fight all together. I can control my conditioning and it's always going to be better than everybody I fight."
Scott Jorgensen, on the other hand, would beg to differ. The always entertaining Jorgensen has become a fan favorite for his active, hardworking style. His relentless, push-the-pace nature has garnered him two Fight of the Night awards and a feared reputation.
However, it wasn't always easy. After finally reaching the WEC in 2008, "Young Guns" promptly lost his first fight to Damacio Page. It lent the public a rare glimpse of weakness for the resilient Boise native. Jorgensen rallied though, winning seven of his next eight contests, over a two year span, to earn the title shot. Coming into the match, he is riding high on a five fight win streak.
"I think I earned my spot." Jorgensen says. "I think my earlier career in the WEC kind of shaped why it took so long. I don't blame them, but I am thankful for what I went through. I learned a lot along the way. I've gotten a lot better. Had I fought for the title two fights ago, I wouldn't be where I'm at today, and right now I feel unstoppable."
Regardless, the Twisted Genetiks product finds himself listed as the underdog coming into Thursday night. Vegas currently posts the challenger as a 2-to-1 favorite to loss the fight. However, Scott understands this is only the nature of the beast, and he hopes his opponent finds solace in the numbers.
"I'm very calm. I've faced bigger things in my life. I've faced some of the baddest men in the world. Facing another number one guy is just another day in the office for me" Jorgensen says. "It's all opinion, man. It's just words. It's no different that being ranked. It's all opinion. Until you beat everybody, you're not number one."
When asked about his opponent's game, Jorgensen minces no words.
"I see a lot of defensive movement, a lot of point striking, and that's about it. Everybody talks about his wrestling, but his wrestling doesn't scare me. I wrestle with the best in the world." He continues, "When I hit pads, we go over a few different things that are specific. We see really big weaknesses in his game."
I haven't focused too much on Dominick. I never watch tape. The only time I've ever watched tape on him is when I see him fight -- and that's usually live, and that's it. My philosophy going into this fight is to do what I want, which is what I always do, and ever since I started doing that I've ripped off five straight wins."
Jorgensen's musings are not new revelations. His approach to the champion has stayed consistent throughout the pre-fight process. On the other side of the cage, Cruz is well aware of the verbal barbs being tossed his way. He's heard such rumblings and remarks before regarding his unique style.
"I wasn't surprised. The guy always talks a lot -- Scott Jorgensen -- that's what he's known for." Cruz says. "It's all talk. When it comes down to it, I go in there, and I come to fight every single time. I think that, again, a lot of the reasons why a lot of people critique my style is because they don't understand it. Everything I do, I do it for a reason, and that's the reason why I'm coming up on top, because people can't understand it. So the only thing you can do is badmouth it, because you don't know how it works."
When asked if the champion believes Jorgensen's bravado is simply a method of pep-talking himself into being able to handle Cruz's rhythm -- a feat that only Featherweight legend Urijah Faber can lay claim to -- Dominick matter-of-factly remarks:
"I think he's absolutely talking himself into being able to handle it. What else can he do?"
Sweat dripping down his face, on the precipice of his greatest accomplishment, the champion grins as he finishes his thought, "I have a place [in mind] for the UFC belt."