1. The rematch left unsolved questions
While most agree that Cruz’s decision victory was the right call, the margin of victory varies depending on who you speak to. There are some that agree with one judge’s score of 50-45, while many including the other two judges and yours truly saw the bout as a closely fought contest. Dana White himself said he’d hate to have to score the fight. Cruz was able to dictate the pace and land his volume of pitter-patter punches, while Faberlooked to be landing the heavier blows. Cruz may or may not be happy with his measure of revenge, coming off a 25 minute decision after being subbed quickly in the first round in their first encounter. Faber’s motivation is clear and having these two go toe to toe one last time for supreme bragging rights and the UFC Bantamweight title would lay to rest any and all speculation.
2. There is no other clear #1 contender
There was some speculation before UFC 132 that if Brian Bowles put on a killer performance against Takeya Mizugaki that the former WEC champion could find himself the next number one contender. But an uninspiring decision victory and a possible hand injury have left his title shot in question. Others, including UFC’s featherweight and bantamweight matchmaker Sean Shelby and MMASucka’s own JP Lasaleta have voiced Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson as a possible opponent for Cruz. While both are certainly accomplished fighters, Bowles’ win over Mizugaki and possible injury don’t have anyone screaming “title shot”, while Johnson has yet to fight on the main card of a UFC pay-per-view event. The wisest thing may be to match up Bowles and Johnson in a title eliminator.
3. It’s the biggest money fight the division has
In a business sense, Cruz–Faber 3 is a no-brainer. The rematch was able to headline a pay-per-view in what is traditionally UFC’s most profitable time of year. No other possible match-up comes close to having the same amount of cache. Faber is the only legitimate star in the division; he was the only WEC fighter that the average casual MMA fan knew, and the only one Zuffa trusted enough to headline WEC’s only pay-per-view and do big business. Win or lose, fighting Faber again will expose Cruz to more eyeballs and bring more recognition to the champion than any other possible fight in the division. A third go-round will have both fighters and the promotion laughing all the way to the bank.
4. People love a good feud
There’s something intrinsically fascinating about watching two men who legitimately do not like each other punch each other in the face. It’s been that way since the dawn of time. Modern MMA is no exception. The feuds involving Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson and Wanderlei Silva, and Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir among others captured fans’ imagination and forced them to take sides. The saga of Cruz and Faber is no exception. Both men clearly don’t like the other one and with the score tied 1-1, I’m sure both men would love to be known as the one who took the deciding fight. Whether you’re a fan of “The Dominator” or “The California Kid”, there’s nothing better than cheering on your favoured fighter as he takes on his arch-nemesis.
5. It would be REALLY freakin’ entertaining
Sometimes that’s reason enough. We just saw two men at the pinnacle of their division fight a grueling war of attrition waged over 25 minutes with no quarter asked and none given. We were fortunate enough to witness a legitimate fight of the year contender between two sworn enemies which capped off the UFC’s best pay-per-view of the year. If I had the chance, I’d be grovelling at Dana White’s feet in Dickensian fashion, “Please sir, may I have some more”?