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Cruz won't be still, silent for Jorgensen

Dominick Cruz makes for a difficult target -- and often makes opponents pay for missing the mark. Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

There's trash talk, and then there's the developing conversation between Dominick Cruz and Scott Jorgensen.

Unlike so much of what passes for mixed martial arts hype these days, the bantamweights aren't following any PR playbook -- which usually closes with postfight hugs and the admission that the back-and-forth was intended to drum up fan interest -- so much as expressing confidence in themselves and doubts about the opposition in advance of the most important bout in the history of their division.

Thursday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., Cruz and Jorgensen will become the first fighters to compete for the UFC 135-pound championship. Technically speaking, Cruz is the defending World Extreme Cagefighting champion, but Zuffa -- parent company of WEC and the Ultimate Fighting Championship -- decided 2011 was the appropriate time to meld brands. So in the co-main event of the last of 53 WEC cards that have been promoted since 2001, a new, undoubtedly more prestigious championship is on the line.

"Even though Dominick is on some of the pound-for-pound rankings and he's fought a lot of the best guys out there, that belt is different than the WEC belt when you look at who's won it across all weight divisions," said Cruz's trainer, Eric Del Fierro. "We knew the WEC belt meant those guys at 145 and 135 were fighting the best of the best, so they earned it, they deserved it. But when you get a UFC belt and you see the guys wearing it in the past, there's some legitimate incredible athletes. It's a dream come to true to see your kid wearing that belt."

Cruz isn't, yet.

Although fighting under the UFC banner should do wonders for Cruz and his 145- and 135-pound compatriots featured by the WEC since Zuffa purchased the company and made lighter-weight divisions its focus in 2007, winning in the Octagon is key to any lasting notoriety. Save for a submission loss to Urijah Faber at 145 pounds in 2007, all Cruz has done is win.

Employing a style rarely utilized in MMA, Cruz made movement, footwork, speed and cardio the cornerstones of his impressive 16-1 record, which includes victories over Brian Bowles and Joseph Benavidez.

"I think it's a huge reason why people don't quite believe in me 100 percent yet; a lot of people have a hard time believing in what they don't understand," Cruz said. "My style is so different, so new, something they've never seen, that people have no clue what the heck I'm doing out there. They don't see the strategy out there. All they see is me hopping around and looking way different, and funny, than everybody else in MMA. Nobody fights the way I do."

Jorgensen (11-3) views himself as the perfect foil to Cruz's "dancy thingy" style.

"I think he thinks I move straight forward. I do when my opponent moves straight back. A lot of my opponents lately have moved straight back. That's fine," said Jorgensen, 28, who needed no help standing out after being diagnosed with vitiligo, a relatively common disorder that destroys or weakens skin pigmentation, during his sophomore of high school. "They can think what they want. I don't really give a s---. I'm going in there with what I want to do. He can think it's about a bull and the matador. He can think my style plays into his style until he loses everything he thought he knew when I hit him. He can talk all he wants. I'll deliver."

Cruz and his camp fancy their chances against a pressure fighter like Jorgensen, a gritty three-time Pac-10 wrestling champion for Boise State University who transferred the energy and power that made him successful on wrestling mats to his MMA career.

"I feel like there's nothing he can bring to the table that I haven't already seen," Cruz said. "Really, I'll go out there and do what I've been doing. Everything will come together in the fight. I'll make reads and adjustments as the fight goes on, and go in there looking for the finish from beginning to end."

Above all else, the 25-year-old Cruz prides himself on being fit. And while training in a camp that features such pros as Brandon Vera and Phil Davis, Cruz has set the mark.

Said the champion: "The one thing I am scared of is fatigue.

"I work to failure in every single workout that I do. There is no possible way in any fight -- and I'm 100 percent positive on this -- that I'll get tired. I will never worry about that, because I can control that."

Jorgensen's experience in competition over the past 20 years tells him otherwise.

"I move forward with great pressure and great speed, but always under control," the challenger said. "At the same time, I know how to make people tired. That's one thing I guarantee you I know better than Dominick. Amongst all the other stuff I feel that I'm better at, there's one thing I'm very good at; and anybody I've ever competed against, whether it's college wrestling or a fight, will tell you I can make you tired. I don't care how good or how hard you train or what you tell yourself about your cardio, I will make you tired. I will make you forget what you know. And I will hurt you."

The conversation ends Thursday.

Josh Gross covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at JoshGrossESPN.