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UFC 128 Notebook: Urijah Faber itching for shot at Dominick Cruz

Las Vegas’ Anthony Njokuani puts on entertaining show but falls short against Edson Barboza

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Mel Evans / AP

Brendan Schaub, left, and Mirko Cro Cop trade punches during their mixed martial arts match at UFC 128 Saturday, March 19, 2011, in Newark, N.J. Schaub won by KO.

UFC 128 Fight Night

Jon Jones, right, kicks  Mauricio Rua  during their mixed martial arts match at UFC 128  Saturday, March 19, 2011, in Newark, N.J. Jones won by TKO. Launch slideshow »

NEWARK, N.J. — Let the rivalry between Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz intensify.

Faber, the former WEC featherweight champion, was successful in his UFC debut. Faber beat Eddie Wineland by unanimous decision — all three judges scored it 29-28 — in their co-main event bantamweight bout at UFC 128 at the Prudential Center.

Faber wasted little time and called out Cruz, the bantamweight champion, seconds after he won.

“Dominick, if you’re out there, hide your kids. Hide your wife. Hide that UFC belt,” Faber warned.

Cruz, sitting in the front row, clapped and nodded his head. Although not confirmed, Faber is expected to have the first shot at Cruz when he returns from a hand injury.

It’s rumored that the bout will come after the 14th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," on which Cruz and Faber could serve as opposing coaches. UFC President Dana White said he hadn’t decided on coaches yet but would not rule out the possibility.

“I’m ready to take on whoever,” Faber said. “I feel like I’m the best guy in the weight class, and I beat the guy who is the champ. I feel incredible, so let’s do it.”

Faber submitted Cruz four years ago during a string of five consecutive WEC featherweight title defenses. But Cruz and Faber have exchanged words ever since, which makes a rematch one of the most anticipated bouts the lighter divisions have to offer.

Faber said he was trying to add intrigue with his comments to Cruz in the octagon.

“I was just trying to add some humor,” Faber said. “I like messing with Dominick. Like I said before, I felt like he chose me as an enemy and I gladly accepted. I was just messing around with him and letting him know I’m coming to get his belt.”

Brendan Schaub scores knockout of the night bonus

Heavyweight Brendan Schaub continued to elevate his status in the division with a third-round TKO victory over PRIDE legend Mirko Cro Cop.

Schaub threw a straight right that everyone in the arena heard when Cro Cop crashed to the ground.

“I was hoping he would lower his hand so I could go for the knockout,” Schaub said. “It took longer than I expected.”

The 36-year-old Cro Cop has now lost two fights in a row via knockout and White said Saturday was likely his last appearance in the octagon.

Schaub won Knockout of the Night honors and a $70,000 bonus. Erik Koch, who knocked out Raphael Assuncao with a right in the first fight of the night, also got $70,000 for his knockout.

In essence, there were two Knockout of the Night awards because there were no submissions on the card.

Edson Barboza and Anthony Njokuani win Fight of the Night

Anthony Njokuani and Edson Barboza engaged in the type of fight White and UFC fans alike drool for. They each received a $70,000 Fight of the Night bonus to show for it.

Njokuani and Barboza are both Muay Thai masters and it showed Saturday. Barboza eked out a unanimous decision victory by three 29-28 scores, but it wasn’t without adversity.

Njokuani, who trains in Las Vegas, landed a number of electric strikes in the second round, including high kicks and a spinning elbow. Njokuani also scored a takedown in the round to even the scorecards after Barboza caught him with a couple punches in the first round.

The third round was closely contested until the final seconds when Barboza sent Njokuani to the ground by landing a picturesque spinning back kick to his chin.

“That kid is super talented and his striking is nasty,” White sad. “That was an amazing kick.”

The 24-year old Barboza improved his MMA record to 8-0 with the win.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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