From fighter to coach, from relative obscurity to National TV Celebrity

Dominick Cruz and his mom, Suzette Howe are shown arriving at the Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 30, 2011. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Talk about hiring the best people for a job. Ultimate Fighter Live astutely selected two of the best pound for pound MMA fighters in the world to go head to head, not fighting, but coaching the best upcoming MMA talent. It’s like hiring Kobe Bryant to go head to head with Kevin Durant to teach baskets; or


hiring Aaron Rodgers to go head to head with Tom Brady and teach quarterbacks, or hiring Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez to coach batting practice – you get the point.

The Ultimate Fighter premiers this Friday on FX with two of the elite Mixed Martial Artists on the Planet. Dominick Cruz (l) from Chula Vista, Calif. and Urijah Faber (r) from Isla Vista, Calif.

For aspiring Mixed Martial Artists, this is a must see. On one side of the aisle you have UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and on the other, his arch rival, Urijah Faber, who desperately wants his title. You will learn firsthand from Cruz and Faber what it takes to succeed in this most difficult of sports.

First off, Cruz mentioned that you will need to be open-minded. “If I were a contestant on this show, a team member, I would be very secluded to myself, all ears, listening and just trying to suck in like a sponge all the information I could, so that under any circumstance I come out of this with some new knowledge. The more I worry about myself, the less I get involved with other people’s drama, so that’s how I would do it as an athlete. I would get the most I could out of the coaches and the experience, just to improve myself so that I get better throughout the show and beat everybody.

“Be open-minded, never know everything and just listen. You have to have trust and faith in the coaches. You can’t do it by yourself. You need help. You can’t coach yourself. You can’t make up your own regimen. So more than anything be open-minded and never be too good for anybody.

“My personal coaching style is very hands on and I like to lead by example, so if I have a problem with the way someone is doing something, I’ll get down and do it with them. So I make sure they’re doing it correctly. I’m kind of a perfectionist.”

Faber, his counterpart, has been the driving force that brought some of mixed martial arts’ top talents into the sport, even going so far as to buy up several houses on the same block in Northern California so the members of his Team Alpha Male could have a place to live near the gym.

Who better to start coaching the next generation of UFC hopefuls than the former WEC featherweight champ and current UFC bantamweight contender who, like Cruz, is embracing his role on this, the 15th season of The Ultimate Fighter, which premiers Friday on FX.

Faber: “I’m always looking to recruit guys. I don’t know what it is. I’ve always been kind of a leader when it comes to that stuff and a kind of visionary as well. So when I see guys with talent, I believe in them and figure hey, you might as well go for it. It turns out that a lot of different guys that you think would be good at something, all they really need is a nudge in the right direction and a little encouragement, and things happen.”

For the next three months, Cruz and Faber have a chance to build a network from the 32 fighters that will be whittled down to 16 on Friday night, and then later to just eight.

Prior to his meeting with Brandon Adams (r) on March 31, 2011, at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in San Diego, Erin Beach (l) was contemplating a career in professional boxing. After ring announcer Benny Ricardo (c) called off the negative scores, they say he had second thoughts. Adams is now undefeated after winning five straight. Photo: J. Wyatt

Among the 32 fighters on the current roster is Erin Beach another MMA/Boxing pro from San Diego. Beach has given instruction at the Black House Team Nogueira Gym on Miramar Road in San Diego and works out at the Alliance Training Center on Third Ave in Chula Vista, Calif. with Cruz.

To help Cruz and Faber pick the right guys for their teams there will be a full cast of assistant coaches and guests. On that list is Master Thong, Fabio Prado, Dustin Akbari, Justin Buchholz, Lance Palmer, etc., etc, specialists who will come in and teach their different techniques.

It’s the chance of a lifetime for those who will eventually end up on either Team Cruz or Team Faber, especially considering that the show has launched the careers of several UFC stars, to include Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin.

An interesting twist to the show is the fact that Coach Cruz and Coach Faber, will be getting an opportunity to be up close and personal with their rival in preparation for their July rubber match.

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