Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz says the division’s current champion, Henry Cejudo, has ways to go before he can be called the greatest.
While Cejudo is no longer a champ-champ thanks to the UFC stripping him of the flyweight title, he has used his former status as such and current bantamweight title to call out a collection of former champions, including Cruz.
Cruz has had run-ins with strings of injuries that have prevented him from competing in the Octagon between 2012 and 2014, in 2015 and again since 2016. He has not been seen in action since losing the bantamweight title to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207.
Still, the likes of Cejudo and Cory Sandhagen have called Cruz out as of late. And Cruz says anyone who wants to be considered the best 135-pound UFC champion of all time still has to go through him.
“I’m kind of in a [Nate] Diaz situation…where I’m like, ‘You got Henry Cejudo calling me out, why would I want to fight anybody else?'” Cruz told Brendan Schaub on the latest edition of Food Truck Diaries. “He’s the titleholder, he’s got an Olympic title and thinks he’s a ’25-pound and ’35-pound champion. That’s the guy to beat, and he wants to say that he’s the GOAT; you’ve got to beat me, bro. It’s plain, simple, period.
“It’s just like, let’s do this. I’m right here, I’m finally healthy. We’re both coming off shoulder surgery, we’re both from Arizona, we were both on the same national wrestling team. I know his style. I know everything about him, I know his background. I know how he grew up.”
Cejudo, however, is currently focused on a potential showdown with Jose Aldo, despite the fact Aldo has lost back-to-back fights, including a decision loss to Marlon Moraes at UFC 245. Cruz feels it’s because Aldo is the easier choice for a fight.
“Realistically, fighting me makes you the best in the division if you can beat me, but I think you know the truth; that’s why you’re going towards an Aldo that lost to Moraes, who you beat,” Cruz said. “That gives some comfort, where you got me you could face, after a three-year layoff, where I’ve looked very good before in the past, and I fight a little unconventionally, but the way I see it is we’re both coming off shoulder surgery and so that makes this an even fight to have.”
Some good news, however, is that Cruz claims that he feels healthy and plans to finally return to the Octagon once more, hopefully within the first six months of this year.
“This year, I will fight as long as everything stays in line like it has, and I learned that a lot of what was stopping me has just been keeping focused on the now and not worrying about things you can’t control,” Cruz said.
Quotes via MMAJunkie