5 of the best bantamweight fights in MMA history

UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw v Cruz
UFC Fight Night: Dillashaw v Cruz / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber 2 | UFC 132

If you have yet to watch this fight, do yourself a favour and check it out. We throw around the word pioneer very loosely in sports sometimes, but these two are the perfect examples for MMA and the UFC.

As mentioned earlier, the main fight promotions before 2011 did not showcase weight classes below lightweight. For most fans, WEC was just the cable version of the UFC with smaller guys. During an era where heavyweights and light heavyweights reigned surpreme, it seemed like 145 pounds and under was for the true MMA fans.

If the fight itself was not enough, the storylines heading into this were simply spectacular. what's even more impressive is this fight would undoubtedly create the long-standing back and forth between Team Alpha Male and Dominick Cruz. For both the Dillashaw and Garbrandt fights, Cruz would go out of his way to point out that Faber and Benavidez were figured out and they would be next.

Faber already beat Cruz at 145 pounds. However, even though Faber reigned at featherweight for quite some time, Jose Aldo came on board to spoil the party. After losing to Aldo, Faber would go down to 135 for one last chance at WEC/UFC gold. In his first fight back, Faber completely slept Takeya Mizugaki to earn a title shot against Cruz.

Once again, this was a massive deal for fight fans given how popular Urijah was and how amazing it was that he was coming back. He wasn't just coming back, either, he was looking to make new waves as the fighter to dethrone Cruz. The best part about this fight was that it came after the UFC bought WEC towards the end of 2010, making this one of the inaugural fights to paint the canvas for 135 pound-fighters moving forward.

Cruz went on to win a close decision where Urijah accepted fault for not landing enough or not finishing the fight. Fast forward to 2016, Cruz's only defense after beating Dillashaw was Faber, which he won, before losing the title to Garbrandt. Needless to say, it seems like the bantamweight division was a family affair before it rose to the level we know today.

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