It has been almost a year since Dominick Cruz lost a bantamweight title fight to Henry Cejudo. Despite this time, he still believes that referee Keith Peterson made a wrong call and was under the influence of something.
Over the years, Cruz has shown himself to be notoriously good at taking the few losses that he has had. What comes to mind is the image of him standing up at the press conference after losing the belt to Cody Garbrandt, accepting defeat with his chin held high.
However this previous behavior is what made the way he handled losing to Henry Cejudo such a stark contrast of ideals. This time around, he blamed referee Keith Peterson for calling the fight early, despite being rocked hard by the champ, going as far as to say the now-iconic line about the ref smelling like cigarettes and alcohol.
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Dominick Cruz Still Blames The Ref
While time has gone by, and Dominick Cruz is set to return to action against Casey Kenney, he has not quite gotten over that loss to Henry Cejudo. Speaking in a recent interview, he expressed that part of the reason for that, was Cejudo’s decision to retire without Dom getting a second crack at him.
“What’s hard about it is that he retired after that, to not have to face anybody. And then he’s still chirping. It’s not championship stuff when you do that, to me. You’re keeping yourself safe until you get the right position to come back,” Cruz said,
From there, Dominick shifted his attention to his fight with Cejudo. Namely, his continued frustration with Keith Peterson, as he still believes that the ref took that chance of victory away from him.
“I think Keith Peterson gave him a nice gift with that,” Cruz said.
“Yeah, I got hurt and I shouldn’t have put myself in that position, but if you talk to the refs, and if you talk to anybody, you have a couple things that you have to do to keep the fight going. You have to be defending yourself and you have to be working into a better position. I was doing both of those things when the fight got stopped…
“I was okay, so it was hard for me to get stopped when it was a premature stoppage 100%. I don’t believe I lost that fight, I believe Keith Peterson took that fight.”
Cruz made it clear that he is the type of guy who typically handles losses well, and takes responsibility for losing. However he maintains that Peterson was being incoherent and was clearly not focused.
“I had to ask him two times to restate the rules to me because he wasn’t all there in the back. All that led to me acting the way that I did after that fight, and saying what I said,” he said.
“I’m going to request, and I can only hope and pray that the commission honors my request to not have him refereeing my fight. I can’t guarantee it, the commission does whatever they want and I respect them and their decisions but I don’t believe he’s a competent ref with the way that he treated my fight and the way that he treated it before it happened.”
“The way that I saw him go through the rules in the back, I’ve never a referee that I’ve had to say ‘Hold on, hold on, stop. Can you start all over again. I can’t understand anything that you’re saying and you’re not looking me in the eyes. Are you here, are you present?'” Cruz continued.
“I don’t know if he was nervous or what he had going on, but I’ve never dealt with that. I’ve had close to 25 fights, I’ve never had a situation with a ref where I had to pull him in to the conversation and make him present.”
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Taking It One Step At A Time
While Dominick Cruz is working on getting past this loss, he will be taking on Casey Kenney at UFC 259. Although it is hard to deny that his best days as a fighter are likely behind him.
That said, Dom has no intentions of hanging up the gloves. He says that he is taking things one fight at a time, and will decide to retire when the time is right.
“I do enjoy it. I don’t have an answer for how much longer I want to do this. I just take it one fight at a time right now,” Cruz said.
“My body feels good, I feel good. I’m going through the practices, I’m getting through the camps. A three-round camp was much easier to get through than a five-round camp, I’ll tell you right now…
“I don’t have an answer for how long I want to do this but I feel really good. I’m going into this fight healthy with no dings, no injuries, so that’s a first.”
Dominick Cruz is set to return to action on March 6th, on the prelims of UFC 259, as he takes on Casey Kenney. It will be interesting to see how he looks in this fight, and how much he has left in the tank.