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WEC 53: Dominick Cruz, Scott Jorgensen Fight To Be First UFC Bantamweight Champion

The inherent pressures that stem from a title fight are a mental battle as much as a physical one. Focus on the task at hand is difficult, but paramount to the successes required to reach the pinnacle of the sport. Still, for Dominick Cruz and Scott Jorgensen, those pressures have been multiplied tenfold as the men prepare to venture into untraveled territory.

Truth be told, over the course of the next few months, the life of one of these two men of will drastically change.

On Thursday, incumbent title holder Dominick Cruz and challenger Scott Jorgensen will battle to for the right to forever be known as the last WEC Bantamweight Champion. After the show in Glendale, the organization will be merging with the world's most popular MMA corporation -- the UFC -- and the two rosters will be integrated.

WEC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz cuts weight in preparation for his upcoming title defense.

Drenched in the sunlight of the merger, the importance of the fight has been magnified. Not only will the victor have won the right to call themselves WEC Champion, but they will also be declared the first ever UFC Bantamweight Champion. The difference between the two titles is staggering.

WEC's events are typically broadcast free on Versus to about 300,000-500,000 viewers. The organization's highest paid fighter -- Uriah Faber -- pocketed $56,000 (including a win bonus that doubled his base salary, $28,000) for his last fight.

In contrast, the UFC's events are typically broadcast on pay-per-view to upwards of 1,000,000 viewers. The organization's highest paid fighter - Brock Lesnar - pocketed $400,000 (which did not include a win bonus that would have doubled the amount) for his last fight.

To be blunt, it's a entirely different world.

The fame, money, reverence, and recognition that comes with being a UFC champion is something that cannot be articulated; and something that is almost impossible to prepare for. Yet, this is what these men face on Thursday.

Cruz -- a man known for his highly unorthodox, yet highly successful style -- understands what is coming and the perspective he must to carry.

"To me, it's just another fight. Every single time I go out to get a belt I'm not defending anything; I'm going out to win a new belt every single fight. This fight I'm just going out to get a new belt," he says.

"I'm just taking out my goals one-by-one. The next one is to be the UFC champion, and to be the best 135-pounder on the planet, and move in the pound-for-pound rankings to the top-5."