Faber (25-5-0) will get to scratch that itch under one condition: He must defeat former bantamweight titleholder Brian Bowles (10-1-0). The two are scheduled to square off on Nov. 19 at UFC 139 in San Jose, Calif.
The Faber-Bowles winner gets Cruz, who is set to defend his crown against Demetrious Johnson at UFC Live on Versus 6 on Oct. 1 in Washington, D.C.
Johnson has looked impressive inside the Octagon recently, but a case can be made that Faber and Bowles are more deserving contenders. UFC president Dana White, however, believes Johnson has earned the right to face Cruz at this time.
“Both Urijah and Bowles lost to Cruz,” White told ESPN.com. “The winner of their fight will earn a rematch.
“Johnson is 9-1, on a four-fight win streak and beat former [bantamweight] champ [Miguel] Torres in his last fight.”
Cruz (18-1-0) took the 135-pound title in March 2010 from Bowles, who suffered a hand injury during the fight and could not continue after two rounds. He would make the third successful defense of his title July 2 with a unanimous decision over Faber.
The fight with Faber was the second between the two. Faber submitted Cruz in the first round on March 24, 2007, to retain his WEC featherweight title.
Now that he is competing at bantamweight, Faber is determined to capture that crown and would like nothing more than to take it from Cruz in a third showdown.
“I definitely want the rematch with Cruz,” Faber told ESPN.com. “It’s a fight that needs to happen. But I’m fine with having another fight going into it.
“It definitely gives me extra motivation. Beating Brian Bowles is just one step closer to getting that belt. I’m sure Brian Bowles is motivated himself to get another shot.”