In March 2007, Dominick Cruz suffered his first – and still, to this very day, his only – professional loss.  At the time, the current UFC bantamweight champion was still a featherweight, and his opponent happened to be the reigning WEC featherweight champion of the time, Urijah Faber.

Now, the roles are reversed, as Cruz holds the belt and Faber represents the challenger in their July 2 rematch in the main event of UFC 132.  When the two 135-pounders step into the Octagon at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, one will have redemption on his mind, while the other will look to repeat what he did some four-plus years ago.  The two fighters have both evolved since that first meeting.  Cruz is now known for his evasive style, and it seems hardly likely to seek the current champ attempt a takedown, a tactic that cost him the 2007 bout.  Meanwhile, Faber has revitalized his career with a move to 135 following two unsuccessful bids to regain his featherweight crown.

It’s an intriguing headliner, where we’ll get to see if Cruz has really grown into a top pound-for-pound fighter, or if Faber has his number.

It’s just one of five outstanding fights on the evening’s main card.

Beyond that championship clash, we’ll see what could turn out to be light heavyweight superstar Tito Ortiz’s retirement fight, as he squares off with Ryan Bader.  In a middleweight war that all but guarantees a slugfest and a highlight reel knockout, Chris Leben trade leather with the legendary Wanderlei Silva.  Welterweights Carlos Condit and Dong Hyun Kim will battle to move one step closer to a title shot, with Condit suggesting that he’ll outright request one should he win.  And rounding out the main card action, surging lightweight Dennis Siver will fight Matt Wiman, who has had a solid, albeit quieter, run of success lately.

The action hits pay-per-view airwaves at 9 p.m. ET Saturday.  The MMA Corner Round Table panel of Corey Adams, Bryan Henderson and The MMA Corner’s newest addition, Brian McKenna, break down all five main card bouts.

LW: Dennis Siver (18-7) vs. Matt Wiman (13-5)

Henderson: Siver has quickly turned into a top lightweight contender in the eyes of some, but it was just a little over a year ago that the striker was coming off of a loss.  In fact, his most recent loss is nearly a full year fresher than that of his opponent, Wiman.  And both men are riding three-fight win streaks.  So, why the difference in perception?  Why isn’t Wiman’s hype train roaring as loudly?

That would be due to the level of competition each fighter has faced.  While Wiman has taken decisions over Cole Miller and Shane Nelson, along with a controversial early-stoppage submission of Mac Danzig, Siver has rolled through Spencer Fisher, Andre Winner and George Sotiropoulos.  The Sotiropoulos fight in particular has fed into Siver’s hype, as the striker displayed a much-improved takedown defense and, with the win, effectively stole all of Sotiropoulos’ momentum and turned it into his own.

Wiman will have to try to get Siver to the ground, as he’ll have very little chance of outstriking the German.  Siver did display great takedown defense against Sotiropoulos, but this time around he’ll be fending off a wrestler rather than a BJJ ace.  While I think Wiman will have more luck getting Siver down, I don’t think he’ll be able to do much damage on the mat.

Half of Wiman’s fights have made it to the judges, and I think that’s where we’re headed here.  It’ll be a close one, a fight where the scoring of takedowns, takedown defense and effectiveness on the ground will play heavily on the outcome.  In the end, I’ll say Siver stuffs enough takedowns and remains effective in the standup to eke out a split decision.

McKenna: While lately Siver’s bread and butter has been his stand-up game and takedown defense, don’t sleep on his overall ground game.  Half of Siver’s career victories come from making the other guy tap, and he is by no means a one trick pony.  Siver has shown that he can win by heel hook, arm bar and by choking out his opponent, which only adds to how dangerous he is as a fighter.

When I think of Wiman, I think about the guy that had the potential to win the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter, but went on to lose to Manny Gamburyan on the show.  I guess that is a rotten image of him, as since then he has gone 7-3 while fighting under the UFC banner.  I really think that the two consecutive losses against Jim Miller and Sam Stout may have been the best thing that happened to the guy, as he fell back to Earth from whatever cloud he was on.

With a win for either fighter, they could very well be on the fringe of a lightweight title shot.  There has been a lot of stuff going on with the 155-pounders as of late, and I see no stop to it here.  I agree with Bryan on this one and see Siver keeping this fight standing and picking Wiman apart because of it.  Siver by decision.

Adams: My fellow panelists laid it out perfectly. Not much else for me to say, but I do agree with Siver’s improving ground game. He showed he can submit someone early (Winner) and is capable of defeating a BJJ specialist (Sotiropoulos). He is turning out to be an all-around good fighter.

But you have to give Wiman credit as well. His fight against Danzig may have been controversial to say the least, but he came back and took out a tough fighter in Cole Miller. I agree that Wiman will try to take the fight to the mat against Siver and avoid the excellent striking game of the German.

I don’t see either guy finishing this fight. Like my colleagues said, it could turn into a grappling match. I’m going to take Siver by decision as well.

WW: Carlos Condit (26-5) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (14-0-1)

McKenna: I have very few heroes when it comes to Mixed Martial Arts, but watching how Condit came out to the Jimi Hendrix Woodstock version of the Star-Spangled Banner at UFC 120 in London and then scored the Knockout of the Night in the first round against Dan Hardy, it was pretty heroic.  While fighting under the Zuffa banner, Condit is 8-1 with the only loss coming from a split decision to Martin Kampmann.  On that run, he defeated Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, and won the WEC welterweight title, defended it three times, and was the final WEC welterweight champion as Zuffa absorbed every division higher than lightweight into the UFC.  The kid is extremely well-rounded, as proven by his 26 victories, of which 12 have come by knockout and 13 have come by submission.

Kim is one of the few undefeated fighters left fighting in the major promotions.  “The Stun Gun” has 14 wins, a draw, and a no-contest.  While fighting for the UFC, he hasn’t exactly been the most exciting fighter, as five of his six fights with the promotion have gone the distance.  Sure, all fights that go to decision are not necessarily boring, but every fight fan truly loves to see a good finish.  Kim is capable of finishing fights though, as he has six knockouts and one submission to his name.

After defeating Nate Diaz at UFC 125, “The Stun Gun” called out Georges St-Pierre for a shot at his title.  At the time, there were more suitors that were more deserving of a shot at the 170-pound title, but right now this fight could very well be an unofficial No. 1 contender match, considering Rick Story’s loss last week to Charlie Brenneman.  Because of that, I think these guys will leave it all in the cage and I see Condit taking it to Kim with a knockout early in the fight, and likely getting first crack at the winner of the bout between GSP and Nick Diaz.

Adams: This fight certainly has future title implications.

Carlos Condit trains for his fight (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Condit is a guy that is liked by many for his aggressive style of fighting. Being of only twenty-seven years old and training out of a top camp in Albuquerque, N.M., the sky is the limit for the former WEC welterweight champion. The gritty style for Condit will benefit him in this fight against Kim.

“Stun Gun” has showed his high-level skill set by using his Judo game to get his opponents to the ground. However, Kim has not finished a fight since 2008 and has won his last three fights by decision. This is a major concern for him against the finishing ability of Condit. He may not be calling out GSP after this fight.

I’m going to agree with Brian in this one and take “The Natural Born Killer” by knockout, but I’m going to say in the second round.

Henderson: Condit is really starting to find his rhythm in the Octagon.  After the loss to Kampmann, a split decision over Ellenberger and a little early trouble with MacDonald, “The Natural Born Killer” came through with a big win over Hardy.  He is an exciting fighter to watch, but he does have his weaknesses.

“Stun Gun’s” undefeated record and ability to use his Judo and a grinding style to earn decision wins might make him a favorite in some people’s eyes against Condit.  However, I don’t think Kim has proven himself enough to get that sort of credit just yet.  Sure, he defeated Nate Diaz, but Nate’s stand-up is not that of his elder brother, leaving him with jiu-jitsu as his lone primary weapon.  Beyond that win, we’re looking at someone who has defeated Amir Sadollah, T.J. Grant, Jason Tan and who eked out a split decision over Matt Brown.  Yeah, I’m not convinced.

Condit, meanwhile, jumped into the deep waters of the welterweight division upon his arrival in the UFC.  He has already met several contenders, and defeated all but one of them.  Top that off with Condit’s experience as WEC champion and his combination of striking and submissions, and you’re looking at a fighter whose experience and well-rounded game should give him an advantage.

Sure, we’re going to see Condit get thrown around a couple of times by the judoka, but he’ll actively seek submissions when on the ground and should land the better shots in the standup.  I don’t see Condit destroying Kim on the feet, but I do think he’s a savvy veteran who will do enough to earn the close decision.

LHW: Ryan Bader (12-1) vs. Tito Ortiz (15-8-1)

Adams: In a clash of light heavyweights, a young, rising star in Bader steps up to fight “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy.”

Ryan Bader (l) against Jon Jones (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Bader comes from a wrestling background, being a three-time Pac-10 champion. He then joined the UFC to compete on The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 where he won a six-figure contract. While training out of Tempe, Ariz., Bader has compiled a record of 5-1 in the UFC. In his last fight, he took on current UFC champion Jon Jones, but lost in the second round by guillotine choke.

Many people who are familiar with the UFC have heard of Ortiz. But many times, the things said have often been negative. Whether it be getting knocked out by Chuck Liddell twice or the personal issues involving his relationship with Jenna Jameson, Ortiz is disrespected by many UFC fans. But he has, however, stepped in the octagon and faced the best fighters in the sport. In this match-up with Bader, Ortiz must earn a win to avoid getting released by the UFC.

The smart pick in this fight, in my opinion, is to take Bader. I think he has great potential to perform very well in UFC. As for Ortiz, it seems as if his career is coming to an end. “Darth” Bader gets the win early by TKO.

Henderson: It’s hard to look at Ortiz as a threat to any modern fighter anymore.  The former champion has not won since 2006.  That’s getting into “Tank” Abbott and Ken Shamrock territory, except both of those fighters have been thrown a bone more recently, with each winning in 2009.  While Ortiz might be able to dominate the legendary Shamrock, and he at least has the honor of still facing UFC-level competition in his losses, a four-plus year dry spell is hard to overcome.

Then there’s his foe, a winner of The Ultimate Fighter competition who suffered his only loss against Jon Jones.  Bader packs knockout power in his punches and has a solid wrestling pedigree.

Tito Ortiz (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Ortiz relies on his wrestling to take opponents down and pound on them, but Bader’s own wrestling should make takedowns a difficult task.  On the feet, Bader holds the power advantage.  That leaves Tito with very few paths to victory.  His only edge is experience, but that won’t be enough.

Bader does have a hard time finishing opponents unless he cleanly lands a big right hand, so he’ll likely use his wrestling and superior striking to work towards a unanimous decision.  Then, in the post-fight interviews, we can find out what injury Ortiz will use as an excuse this time.

McKenna: While I think that this is a stacked card with or without Tito Ortiz, I wish that the organization would stop stamping his name all over the show.  We get it, Tito was one of the key faces of MMA at the turn of the millennium, but what have you done for me lately?  Like Bryan said, the last five times he stepped into the Octagon he has won zero times.  Not only that, but he borderline ruined season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter.  I truly am baffled as to how this guy still has a fighter’s contract with the UFC.

It is no secret that Bader is one of the best wrestlers in the light heavyweight division, but if you sleep on his hands and think that he is a one trick pony you will be in trouble.  The loss to Jones may have been one of the most crushing blows to Bader.  Not only because he was dominated, but because Jones was then awarded a title shot.  We will never know for sure, but had Bader won against Jones, he very well could have had that title fight.  That has to be a big motivating factor for Bader to get back into the cage and to be better than ever.

Do you guys remember when a past-his-time Michael Jordan came back and played basketball for the Washington Wizards?  That is the stage of the career that Tito Ortiz is at with MMA.  I think that Bader will dominate this fight and send Ortiz into retirement.  Bader by knockout in the first minute of the second round.

MW: Chris Leben (25-7) vs. Wanderlei Silva (33-10-1)

McKenna: I think everyone and their mother is excited about this fight.  Silva will grace us with his presence in the Octagon for the first time since UFC 110, where he made his middleweight debut and outpointed Michael Bisping.  Even though Silva is only 2-5 in his last seven fights, he is one of the most exciting fighters in the history of the sport.  While losing five of seven is bad, if you look at who he lost to – Mirko Cro Cop, Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson and Rich Franklin – it is more than reasonable.  Silva made a name for himself while fighting for Pride, where he held the middleweight (205-pound) belt from 2001 to 2007.  He was known as one of the fiercest fighters on the circuit while fighting for Pride, and that shows when you learn that 23 of his 33 victories are by knockout.

Chris Leben (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

While Silva made a name for himself cracking skulls in Japan, Chris Leben made his name being the “bad boy” during the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.  Leben was that guy who bragged about how he was the best fighter entering the house and was frequently intoxicated while on the show.  Well, it all came back to bite him in the ass after he lost not once, but twice on the show.  Leben has had somewhat of a rough career while fighting with the UFC, winning several fights, losing several fights, and testing positive for steroids at one point.  Most recently, Leben is known for what he did a year ago, fighting twice in less than a month.  In those two fights, Leben earned both Knockout of the Night honors against Aaron Simpson and Fight of the Night honors against Yoshihiro Akiyama.

Both of these guys are known for their “stand up and bang” style of fighting.  The two fighters have combined for 36 total knockout victories.  While both of these guys are capable of winning by submission, it would be shocking to see the fight go that way.  Some might say that Wanderlei has been unsuccessful in the UFC because of the rule difference from Pride (soccer kicks, head stomps to name a few), but I think that it is just because of the recent step up in competition.  Look for Silva to score a highlight reel knockout early in the second round.

Henderson: Regardless of who we think wins this fight, I think all three panelists, and most everyone else, can agree on one thing: This is going to be an exciting fight.

While Silva’s lack of success could be partially attributed to the difference in competition, it would also be logical to attribute some of Silva’s decline to his age.  He’s now in his mid-30’s and he hasn’t really shown his ferocious striking style since his win over Keith Jardine.  While still dangerous, I just don’t see him as the same lethal striker he once was.

Wanderlei Silva (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)

The good news for “The Axe Murderer” is that he’s facing a fighter who will continue charging forward while eating punches until he either puts you out or you put him out.  While Silva might not be the same violent knockout artist from those days of Pride, I’d still rate him as the smarter striker.  Like anyone, he could get clipped by Leben.  If Silva can avoid Leben’s haymakers though, he should be able to dispose of “The Crippler.”

Someone is getting knocked out here, and I’ll say that when the dust clears, it’s Silva who is still standing.

Adams: No doubt, this one has all the makings for earning Knockout of the Night.

I mean, what more can you ask for? Two sluggers stepping into the Octagon to try and knock each others’ heads off, that’s what every fight fan wants to see. This fight alone will draw many people to order this event.

In some ways, I see this fight being a toss-up, but I’m leaning toward Silva too. You can’t forget that “The Axe Murderer” was considered as one of the best fighters in the world in his prime and has faced tougher competition than Leben. I’m going agree with my fellow panelists and take Silva by knockout.

BW Championship: Dominick Cruz (17-1) vs. Urijah Faber (25-4)

Henderson: After just two fights at 135, Faber already finds himself in a championship bout.  It’s a perk that comes with being the longtime face of the WEC and being a longtime featherweight champion under the Zuffa-owned organization.  Nobody can argue with Faber’s quick rise to the position of No. 1 contender in the bantamweight division.

I’m sure Cruz wishes there was a way to argue Faber’s speedy ascension.  After all, Faber needed just 98 seconds to submit Cruz in a featherweight clash a little over four years ago.  While that is ancient history in a sport such as MMA, it still has to weigh on the mind of Cruz and play to Faber’s favor.

Cruz has achieved a new level of confidence since claiming the belt, but that lone loss on his record has to haunt him.  How he deals with it will determine the outcome of this fight.  If he lets it get to him, we’re in for a replay of the first fight.  If he doesn’t, we’re in for a competitive fight that I really could see going either way.  Faber has shown more cracks in his armor recently, but those bumps in the road came at 145.  At 135, he’s looking good again.

Cruz is good at moving in and out, landing and then avoiding while using an unorthodox style.  Faber is fast though, and he might be able to catch Cruz with his hands down or manage a takedown before Cruz can set up to stuff it.

This is another fight I could see going either way.  Cruz has improved since their last meeting, while Faber’s had his own confidence shaken a few times.  Still, I think Faber might just have Cruz’s number, and I’ll say “The California Kid” leaves Cruz with another haunting memory in this one.

Adams: Very excited for this bantamweight match-up of old foes renewing their rivalry with the belt on the line.

Cruz claimed the belt by defeating Brian Bowles at WEC 47, then went on to successfully defend his title against both Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen. As Bryan mentioned, his style has always been keeping his distance, landing quick punches, then backing away. When looking at Cruz’s record, his 10 wins by decision stand out. This will be a concern as he faces a finisher like Faber once again.

Urijah Faber (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Faber has always been a crowd favorite, not just for his hair, but also for the way he fights. Twenty of his 25 wins have come by either knockout or submission. He showed in his last fight against Eddie Wineland that he can easily make weight to compete at bantamweight. Faber has improved very much since his meeting with Cruz, but “The Dominator” has too, which makes this an anticipated match-up.

For Cruz to win, he has to grind out Faber and earn a decision, but I do not think that will be possible. Faber will take the fight to Cruz, speed up the pace, and get the finish. I’m taking “The California Kid” as well by either knockout or submission.

McKenna: I just want to clear the air here by first saying that before anyone tries to talk down Faber because he had to leave the featherweight division because he couldn’t handle Mike Brown and Jose Aldo needs to relax, because the only reason that Cruz had to move down to bantamweight is because of the pure dominance on behalf of Faber at featherweight from 2006 to 2008.  Ultimately, they were both knocked down to the 135-pound weight class, not just Faber.

With all of that being said, Cruz is a fantastic fighter.  Every time I watch him fight, I say to myself that he is going to gas out soon because of all of the bouncing around.  He has cardio-for-days, which is evidenced by his last two fights lasting a complete 25 minutes.  That bob-and-weave style of striking is very difficult to solve, something that has only been done by one person: Faber.

While a lot of people think that Faber is a little premature in receiving the title fight, you have to look at it from the hands of the promotion.  I too feel that Joseph Benavidez is worthy for this fight, he has lost to Cruz twice while Faber has beaten him.  I can’t blame the UFC for giving the nod to Faber, who has been perfect while fighting at 135 pounds.  Also, it doesn’t hurt that Urijah is a major fan-favorite in the world of MMA, and ultimately the UFC is not only in the business of putting on great fights, but making money.

I think that this fight will go longer than the first one, but mainly because Cruz will be able to defend the first couple of takedowns.  However, whenever that first takedown happens, it will spell the end for “The Dominator.”  Urijah’s ground game will be too much for Cruz, and we will see Cruz tap the mat sometime in the third round.

Top Photo: Dominick Cruz (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)