Competition forces every fighter in the world to become a better version of themselves and, as the bantamweight division continues to grow and expand in quality, I can only see my grip on the UFC title becoming stronger and stronger. The competition provides me with the motivation to improve and better myself time and time again, in both the gym and the Octagon.
Even my ongoing rivalry with Urijah Faber has helped me develop and mature as a fighter and person. As most fans know by now, there is bad blood between Faber and I, and that is simply because of the competitive edge we both share. Deep down inside, we are actually both pretty mellow people. Neither of us look to start fights or antagonise people. That's just not how we function. We don't have a history of doing that with other guys, so it seems strange to a lot of people that we don't seem to get along.
Neither of us guys want to lose a fight, period. If somebody steps up to me and thinks they are better than me at the thing I have dedicated my life to, I will not roll over for them. That threat will simply make me work harder and aspire to become a better fighter. Faber thinks exactly the same way. If somebody tells Faber they are better than him at what he does, he'll become just as angry and determined as I would. As a result, if you put the pair of us together, the feelings only escalate. He starts running his mouth, I start running my mouth, and only the fight at the end of it will shut one of us up.
Faber and I actually spent a little bit of time together when the UFC sent some fighters to do some activities with the Marines. We had to try and work together out there, and it was very awkward and weird between us, but we are both professionals and, when it came down to it, we did what we had to do. We acted in a professional manner and put any bad blood behind us. Outside of the Octagon and away from our careers, I have no reason to be angry or upset at Urijah Faber.
Regardless of whether we like or hate each other away from the Octagon, we both know we are the types to get in there and try to destroy the other guy when the time comes. Once that Octagon door closes, it's on. You are not a friend or an enemy to me at that point. You are just some anonymous face stopping me get what I want.
Neither of us will ever back down. This thing will probably just keep on running until one of us, or both of us, decide to call it a day and retire from this great sport. In the meantime, fans can hopefully look forward to at least one more great fight between the pair of us. I've got no doubt that, at some point, providing we both stay on track, there will be a rubber-match there. It's a fight I'm sure both of us would love to be a part of, especially given the history we've shared. It also means a great deal to both of us.
I would love to beat him for a second time, and even more convincingly second go round, while I'm certain Urijah will want to get revenge for what happened earlier this year. He felt hard done by in losing that decision, and he will unquestionably want to show the world that he didn't get a fair shake. I would want to do exactly the same if I'd been on the losing end of that decision. We are natural fighters. This is just what we do.
First things first, though, and Demetrious Johnson waits in the wings this coming Saturday, October 1st, live on VERSUS. Demetrious is an exciting new opponent for me and a new challenge. A lot of people have a hard time dealing with that guy, and I'm expecting a genuine test on October 1st.
I am not taking this guy lightly at all. In my opinion he is incredibly underrated. A lot of people say he is ranked at around fifth or sixth in the bantamweight rankings, but I'd place him even higher than that. He's coming off great wins over Miguel Torres and Kid Yamamoto, and both times he was expected to lose. Demetrious is a guy that loves upsetting the odds, and that is something I am more than wary of going into this fight.
I don't sleep on anybody that I fight. Just because Demetrious may not have appeared on the main card and on television yet in the UFC, doesn't mean he can't fight. Everybody in the game knows how dangerous this guy is and I always treat every single opponent in the same manner, with the utmost respect. I look at every fighter I face as the biggest and most dangerous test of my career.
In fact, Demetrious uses a lot of the things I used to fall back on to get him through fights. He relies on speed, heart, determination and immense will to win. Even when people doubt him or write him off, he shows that self-belief will conquer all. So long as he believes he can win, nothing else matters. I was exactly the same way when I was making my way to the title and I'm still that same fighter to this day.
Some people freeze and start to doubt themselves when an underdog tag is applied to them before a fight, but Demetrious is the kind of guy that thrives on it. It makes him grow bigger and he embraces that 'me against the world' concept to its fullest. That makes him a dangerous opponent for anybody in the bantamweight division.
I'm pumped up and ready for the mightiest 'Mighty' Mouse' the world has ever seen. People may think I'm just going to go in there and do my thing - which I will - but they need to be prepared for the likelihood that this will be an all-out war and a gruelling fight. I am prepared for a real slugfest on October 1st, and am not underestimating my challenger in the slightest. I urge the UFC fans to follow suit and give Demetrious the respect his recent form deserves...
Follow Cruz on Twitter at @TheDomin8r
*** Dominick Cruz defends his UFC world bantamweight crown against Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson on Saturday, October 1st, live on VERSUS ***