Former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz has revealed that he’s got his sights set on fighting the winner of UFC 203’s bantamweight title fight between current champion Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw.
Cruz has past history with both fighters, having defeated Dillashaw to reclaim his title in January of 2016, but then subsequently lost it to Garbrandt at UFC 207 at the tail-end of the year.
The 32-year-old hasn’t fought since then, opting instead to rest up and let his body recuperate, and now he’s eager to get straight back into title contention.
“I’d like to come back and fight for the title. That’s my goal. I wasn’t completely out of that (Garbrandt) fight come that fifth round,” Cruz told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “I was still in the fight. I was in the fight the entire time, so I definitely want to get another shot at that, and that’s what I’m looking for and focused on more than anything, is fighting the winner of T.J. Dillashaw (versus) Cody Garbrandt. That’s what I want. I think that’s what the fans want.”
That being said, Cruz admits that the UFC brass might not be quite so convinced that this is the way to go.
“I told (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby what I wanted to do,” Cruz continued. “Sean Shelby is like, ‘well, I don’t know, I don’t know if that’s necessarily…’ He doesn’t know, he’s saying he doesn’t know. I’m saying this is the fight that needs to happen at 135 pounds. I mean, there’s three people in this division that people know, and it’s me, T.J., and Cody. And the reason why you know us three is because I’ve been fighting these two people and I’ve been talking about them and I’ve been building them on FOX and giving them a lot of shine, and I’ve also been bashing on them, too.
“But the mixture of the entire thing has built the three of us (up), and I think that between the three of us, we could probably fight for 10 years and always have a good fight. But realistically, that’s the fight that makes sense to me. It doesn’t make sense to go down in the division. I’m the No. 1 contender now, and to fight backwards in the division after the amount of title defenses I’ve had in the past, it doesn’t even resonate or make sense to me.
“I’m here to fight the best in the world, to fight for the title, and I think that I’ve earned that position.”