The 37-year-old 135-pound great took on Vera in a headlining bout in San Diego, California and unfortunately for “The Dominator,” his two-fight win streak was snapped after Chito landed a ruthless third-round head kick.
The knockout halted Cruz’s momentum toward a title fight and after the bout, some called for The Dominator’s retirement. But after speaking with Ariel Helwani on Wednesday’s “The MMA Hour,” it’s become clear Cruz has no intentions of walking away from mixed martial arts.
“Right now, it’s been a month-and-a-half,” Cruz said (h/t MMA Fighting). “I’m running again, I’ve been lifting, getting the body strong. I’m still top-10 level. I don’t look at myself after that loss and go, ‘I’m not there any more.’ I do the opposite. I go, alright, speed’s still there, power’s still there, all this stuff’s still there. We’ve just got to tighten up some defense.
“You either retire, or you lose, and those are your choices. I think a lot of people who retire, they didn’t lose, because they retired. You can just keep going, but there’s a point where you’re just going to stack up too many losses, because you’re not there any more.
“I don’t really look at my last fight and go, ‘Ah, you’re not really at the level, these guys are just outclassing you.’ It wasn’t really that. So, just take my team, fix the fundamentals and take it a day at a time. Get my body strong, and just train and love training.”
Cruz Said Chito Made a ‘Nice Read,’ Said He Won’t ‘Change Anything’
After a tough loss, some will say that a fighter needs to make changes to their game – sometimes drastic – to get back into the win column. But that won’t be the case for Cruz, who chalked up his defeat to Chito as Vera making a “nice read,” something that can happen in the fight world.
“I think I change nothing,” he said. “I can’t change anything. That’s who I am. My hand was even up when I got caught. I was defending myself. But this is a game of inches.
“I hit him, and I was winning for three rounds, and I could have dropped him any of those times, he could have dropped me any of those times. It happened when it happened. When you look at the analysis, all you can do is make your own adjustments and control the controllables. I can’t control the uncontrollables, and the uncontrollables are the other person.
“So I focus on me, and fundamentals is something I can add. … Just add a little bit more for a longer pace. … It was a nice read, and that’s how it goes. I’ve made nice reads and embarrassed people, and that’s happened to me now, too.”
Cruz Is Still a Top-10 135-Pound Fighter
Cruz is one of the greatest bantamweight fighters ever and he boasts a professional mixed martial arts record of 24-4. Cruz’s defeat to Chito is the only time he’s lost outside of a championship fight.
The Dominator still holds a spot in the division’s top 10 and is one or two wins away from getting right back on track toward regaining his gold strap.