Ex-UFC Bantamweight King Dominick Cruz Takes Aim at the Division’s Elite

Dominick Cruz

Getty Dominick Cruz

The former UFC bantamweight king, Dominick Cruz, is on a mission to recapture his throne and to do so, he’s got his eyes on the division’s elite.

Cruz hasn’t held the 135-pound belt since it was taken by Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 in December 2016. Before then, Cruz was unbeaten in the division and regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the game.

“The Dominator” is 2-1 since then. Cruz was out of action until May 2020 due to injury, and he received an instant-title shot against then-champion Henry Cejudo upon his return. They squared off during UFC 249 and “Triple C” won the contest via second-round TKO, a referee call Cruz has disputed since.

Cruz hasn’t tasted defeat inside the Octagon since, rattling off two decision victories in a row over Casey Kenney in March 2021 and Pedro Munhoz in December.

Cruz is currently ranked No. 7 in the official UFC bantamweight rankings and he boasts a professional mixed martial arts record of 24-3.

Cejudo, Jose Aldo Among Names on Cruz’s List of Potential Next Opponents

During a recent interview with The Schmo, the Dominator made it clear he wants to break into the top five. And by doing so, he wants to fight someone ranked ahead of him, not a fighter below.

He called out the likes of former UFC champions Jose Aldo, Petr Yan and Cejudo, as well as reigning bantamweight king Aljamain Sterling.

“Let’s call it what it is, but the bottom line is, no one deserves any of these titles, you have to earn them and I’ve earned those things,” Cruz said via BJPenn.com. “I got to keep adding to the things I’ve done and I want to compete against the best. Now, the people who are calling me out underneath the division, who’s calling them out and why aren’t they listening to the people calling them out that are underneath the,? Well, cause they want to move up. Same thing I want to do.

“I want to move up. Give me somebody in the top five, give me an Aldo, give me a Petr Yan, give me Aljamain Sterling. You know what, give me the rematch with Cejudo when he gets his s*** together. I don’t care, like let me be the first person he faces until he gets right back in the division. I got no beef with him.”

After Cejudo beat Cruz at UFC 249, he announced his retirement from the sport, vacating the belt. But earlier this month, Cejudo revealed that he is making his UFC comeback.

Cruz Is Primed for 2022, Has Been Training ‘Nonstop’

The Dominator views 2022 as his year to re-establish himself at the top of bantamweight. He told The Schmo that he’s been in the gym “nonstop,” and that he deserves a crack at someone ahead of him in the rankings.

“This year, I’m ready, I’ve been training nonstop. I just want to face somebody who is above me in the division not underneath me on the ladder,” Cruz said. “I’ve been fighting for a long time, I don’t deserve anything but moving up the ladder doesn’t sound like anything but logic.”

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